Discovery of Farout on the edge of the solar system
– News of December 23, 2018 –
A trio of astronomers has just announced the observation of the farthest object ever discovered in the solar system. This record is responsible for its nickname, Farout. It is an object of 500 kilometers in diameter, which would be enough to consider it as a planet. Farout is currently evolving at 120 astronomical units from the sun, that is, four times farther than Pluto. Farout has a spherical shape and a slightly pinkish color, which indicates that it is mainly composed of ice.
Farout was observed as astronomers sought to discover Planet X, a planet still hypothetical but which could explain the highly elliptical orbits of some transneptunian objects. Farout can not be this planet because it is not massive enough. Astronomers who made this discovery do not yet know its orbital parameters. We do not know if Farout’s orbit seems to influence a massive outer body. Farout is so far away that it will take several years to determine its orbit.
It’s the same team of astronomers who discovered the Goblin in October. The Goblin’s orbit is very eccentric. This object passes too far from Neptune so that it can be responsible. This is why some astronomers are looking for another planet that could explain these disturbances. Whether this planet X exists or not, this hunt makes it possible to discover new objects that can claim the status of dwarf planet. At this pace, we will know several tens within a few years.
Image by NASA / JPL-Caltech [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsSources