The Hunt for Planet X Turns Up a New Solar System Object
by Ashley Strickland October 3, 2018 (cnn.com)
• The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center has found a small object located in the Inner Oort Cloud at the furthest reaches of our solar system, having a perturbed orbit that astronomers believe is caused by a massive but as yet undetected distant tenth planet, or “Planet X” (including the dwarf planet Pluto). This object, formally known as 2015 TG387 and dubbed “the Goblin”, is about 2½ times farther from the Sun than is Pluto, and has a 40,000-year orbit around the Sun.
• The Goblin never comes close enough to the known giant planets in our solar system to be affected by their gravitational influence. Therefore, it must be another unknown large body much further out in the solar system. “We are very uniform in our sky coverage and can find all types of orbits, yet we seem to only be finding objects with similar types of orbits that are on the same side of the sky, suggesting something is shepherding them into these similar types of orbits, which we believe is Planet X,” said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science. “I think we are nearing the 90% likelihood of Planet X being real with this discovery,” said Sheppard. “[This] would redefine our knowledge of the Solar System’s evolution.”
• Fellow researchers include Chad Trujilllo of Northern Arizona University and David Tholen of the University of Hawaii. “What makes this result really interesting is that Planet X seems to affect 2015 TG387 the same way as all the other extremely distant Solar System objects. These simulations do not prove that there’s another massive planet in our Solar System, but they are further evidence that something big could be out there,” Trujillo said in a statement.
• [Editor’s Note] Because of the perturbations of the Goblin and other distant objects, they presume that the massive object causing the gravitational pull is a planet. But what if it is an unseen brown dwarf star in our binary star system, which holds its own system of orbiting planets, including the fabled planet Nibiru?
While searching for the mysterious Planet X that some astronomers believe lurks on the edge of our solar system, researchers instead found an extremely distant object they dubbed “the Goblin.” And this object provides compelling evidence for the existence of Planet X.
The object is on the small end of being a dwarf planet, with a 40,000-year orbit — meaning it takes that long to go around the sun. That’s more than 2,000 times the distance between the Earth and the sun. Its current location is about 2½ times farther from the sun than from Pluto.
“I think we are nearing the 90% likelihood of Planet X being real with this discovery,” said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
The Goblin got its nickname because the scientists first observed it around Halloween 2015. It is considered an Inner Oort Cloud object. The Oort Cloud is a predicted bubble around our solar system far beyond Pluto, filled with trillions of icy bodies and the supposed birthplace of long-term comets.
The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center announced the object, formally known as 2015 TG387, on Tuesday. The researchers, including Sheppard, Northern Arizona University’s Chad Trujilllo and the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen, have also submitted a paper to the Astronomical Journal detailing their findings.
“This new object has the largest orbit of all the extremely distant objects that stay well beyond Pluto,” Sheppard said. Given its orbit, the Goblin never comes close enough to the giant planets in our solar system to be affected by their gravitational influence.
It joins other objects Sheppard and his team have found on the edge of the solar system since 2012. Their isolation makes them unique. “They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our solar system,” Sheppard said.
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