Tuesday, 18 December, 2018


Goblin, the hidden Planet Nine, lurking in outskirts of our solar system?

Kristine Garrett | 06 October, 2018, 01:45

Sheppard is not the only astronomer to propose that a putative planet, called Planet Nine or Planet X, lurks at the dark edge of the solar system.

PALCA: Certainly The Goblin gives new confidence to several teams already searching for Planet Nine, but so far, no luck. Sheppard, Chad Trujillo of Northern Arizona University, and David Tholen of the University of Hawaii submitted their findings to the Astronomical Journal.

AU is a measurement defined as the distance between Earth and the Sun.

But, boasting a larger orbital semi-major axis, 2015 TG387 has the ability to travel farther away from the Sun, reaching a whopping 2,300 AU at its most extreme point.

The University of Hawaii's David Tholen said, "We think there could be thousands of small bodies like 2015 TG387 out on the solar system's fringes, but their distance makes finding them very hard".

The newly discovered world takes around 40,000 years to orbit the sun, and would be too faint to see for 99 per cent of that orbit.

What researchers are excited about, is that the behaviour of its orbit suggests that there may be another giant planet nearby.

When studying the orbit of The Goblin, the researchers discovered that it appears to be acted upon by an unseen object in the same area as others that have offered hints to the existence of a hidden planet. Astronomers first observed the dwarf planet on October 13, 2015, from the Subaru telescope at Hawaii's Mauna Kea Observatories.

Becker says astronomers have only found a handful of objects in addition to The Goblin that point to the existence of Planet Nine, so there is considerable skepticism that it's really out there. Only 2012 VP113 and Sedna, at 80 and 76 AU respectively, have more distant perihelia than 2015 TG387.

Unlike most of the rest of the solar system, these objects never come close enough to giant planets like Jupiter or Neptune to have significant gravitational interactions with them, which makes them fascinating to scientists.

"Currently we would only detect 2015 TG387 when it is near its closest approach to the Sun". "They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our Solar System".

Astronomers discovered an extremely distant object with an orbit that supports the idea of a remote Planet Nine.

SCOTT SHEPPARD: It's on the small end of a dwarf planet. Like the Goblin, it's an extremely distant object in the Oort Cloud, whose orbit is nevertheless not as elliptical.

Trujillo and University of Oklahoma's Nathan Kaib ran computer simulations to see how different hypothetical Planet X orbits would affect the orbit of 2015 TG387. "We are only seeing the tip of the ice berg", Sheppard said in an email. While the huge planets in your system manifest an intense gravitational pool, Goblin seems unfazed by them, which leads scientists to believe that a greater force may be affecting it. That is, the planet is smaller than expected, darker than expected (dark as coal) and more distant than expected.

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