Wednesday, 20 March, 2019


‘Farout,’ the most-distant solar system object discovered

For the first time an object in our solar system has been found more than 100 times farther than Earth is from the sun For the first time an object in our solar system has been found more than 100 times farther than Earth is from the sun
Kristine Garrett | 20 December, 2018, 20:31

Along the way, they have discovered more distant solar system objects suggesting that the gravity of something massive is influencing their orbit. Or to put it in Big Lebowski terms: "It's far out, man; far f%^#ing out".

The existence of Farout was announced this week by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center and it has been given the provisional designation of "2018 VG18".

Farout's obvious moniker comes from the fact that it's over three and a half times more distant from us than Pluto. According to Carnegie, the second-most-distant observed Solar System object is Eris, at about 96 AU, noting that "Pluto is now at about 34 AU, making 2018 VG18 more than three-and-a-half times more distant than the Solar System's most-famous dwarf planet".

Tholen said: "All that we now know about 2018 VG18 is its extreme distance from the sun, its approximate diameter and its colour".

Sheppard also told Euronews the object would likely take more than 1,000 years to orbit the Sun once. According to those observations, the object is likely about 500 km across, which would mean it's spherical and a dwarf planet.

Discovery images of "Farout" were taken on November 10, 2018 at Japanese Subaru 8-meter telescope, which is located on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

'It has a pinkish hue, a color generally associated with ice-rich objects'.

This image provided by the Carnegie Institution for Science shows an artist's concept of a dwarf planet that astronomers say is the farthest known object in our solar system, which they have nicknamed 'Farout'.

The object has been given the nickname of "Farout" by those who discovered it, including Scott S Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC, David Tholen of the University of Hawaii and Chad Trujillo of Northern Arizona University.

While the team's main focus is looking for Planet X, they continue to keep their eyes peeled for other objects in the same general vicinity.

Astronomers don't know much about Farout's physical characteristics because it's so faint.

Essentially, located at about 120 astronomical units (AU= distance between Earth and Sun). An astronomical unit (AU) is the distance between the Earth and the Sun - about 93 million miles - and the new discovery is 120 AUs away.

For some perspective, we once looked at how long it would take to drive to Pluto; when Pluto was 39 AU away, driving at a steady pace of 65 miles per hour it would take 6,293 years. It's about 84 AU distant and also follows an orbit not produced exclusively by the general swirl of the solar system. And with better telescopes, computers, and research methods, astronomers may find more and more bodies in the distant reaches of our system. The object was observed a second time earlier this month at the Magellan telescope at Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

Trujillo hailed the global nature of the discovery, which involved telescopes in Hawaii and Chile owned and operated by Japan, and researchers based in the US.

The Goblin was discovered at about 80 AU and has an orbit that is consistent with it being influenced by an unseen Super-Earth-sized Planet X on the Solar System's very distant fringes.

The theoretical orbit of the theoretical Planet 9. Farout orbits at an irregular point, alongside other so-called "trans-Neptunian objects".

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