Science

Astronomers Discover 'Farout,' the Most-Distant Solar System Object

Astronomers Discover 'Farout,' the Most-Distant Solar System Object”

Farout was discovered as part of the search for the elusive Planet Nine, sometimes called Planet X. This hypothetical planet is thought to exist in the outer reaches of the Solar System because of the way other Kuiper Belt objects are orientated.

The distance between the Earth and the sun is an AU, or astronomical unit - the equivalent of about 93 million miles. The previous record-holder was the dwarf planet Eris at 96 astronomical units (AU).

"With new wide-field digital cameras on some of the world's largest telescopes, we are finally exploring our Solar System's fringes, far beyond Pluto", said Chad Trujillo, astronomer from Northern Arizona University.

The team will now investigate whether the orbit of "Farout" is shaped by the unseen Planet X.

The Carnegie Institution's Scott Sheppard said the object is so far away and moving so slowly it will take a few years to determine its orbit.

Farout is - as its name suggests - is extremely distant from the Sun.

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'.

Farout was discovered by a trio of astronomers that specializes in hunting distant solar system objects.

"It is the slowest-moving object I have ever seen and is really out there".

There's something orbiting the sun, way, way beyond the distant realm of Pluto.

"All that we now know about 2018 VG18 is its extreme distance from the Sun, its approximate diameter, and its color", added Tholen "Because 2018 VG18 is so distant, it orbits very slowly, likely taking more than 1,000 years to take one trip around the Sun". A walk from your place down to the shops might feel like a long distance, but it pales in comparison to the distance between, for instance, our handsome Earth and the Sun.

This animation is composed of the two "discovery images" of 2018 VG18 "Farout", taken an hour apart from the Subaru Telescope, on November 10, 2018.

Farout was first spotted using the Subaru 8-meter telescope in Hawaii in November, and then a follow-up measurement in early December by the Magellan telescope in Chile confirmed its existence.

Solar System distances to scale showing the newly discovered 2018 VG18, nicknamed "Farout", compared to other known Solar System objects.

Image: Scott S. Sheppard/David Tholen.

All that's known about Farout, at the moment, is its distance (120 AU), its size (around 500km across), and its colour (pink!). Its pinkish color suggests it's an ice-rich body, according to the statement.

"This discovery is truly an global achievement in research using telescopes located in Hawaii and Chile, operated by Japan, as well as by a consortium of research institutions and universities in the United States", Trujillo said in the press release. "This would suggest Planet X pulled it out to this large distance".

For a bit of context, Pluto is 34 AU away.

Farout orbits at an unusual angle, along with other so-called "trans-Neptunian objects".



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