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Extreme Dwarf Planet FarFarOut could be the most remote known object in the solar system

The artist's concept of Farout, an object located at 120 AU from Earth. New observations show that another object is still further, 140 AU.
Picture by Roberto Molar Institute of Candanosa / Carnegie for Science

Just a few months after FarOut was discovered, the outermost known object in the Solar System, the same astronomer team has discovered the glimmering of weak yet unconfirmed objects even further. Double FarFarOut, the ultimate dwarf planet is 13 billion miles away – so far the distance is nearly 20 hours to reach the sun's rays.

Sometimes it takes a snow day to promote incredible scientific discovery.

Astronomer Scott Sheppard of Carnegie Science for Science had to give a lecture last week in Washington, D., on an ongoing search for a hypothetical Planet Nine, reports Science Magazine. But when adverse weather forced him to postpone the event, Sheppard decided to overcome the astronomical data collected by his team in January.

And that is when he noticed it – an object in 140 astronomical units (AUs) from the Earth, where 1 AU is the average distance from Earth to the Sun, about 93 million miles away. The newly discovered object, perhaps the extraordinary dwarf planet, was given the name of the deputy FarFarOut, which could potentially move FarOut as the most remote known object in the solar system.

In December 2018, Sheppard, together with his colleagues Chadwick Trujillo from North Arizona University and David Tholens from Hawaii University, spotted FarOut or 2018 VG18, 310 miles wide (500 km), is located at 120 AU from Earth. At the beginning of the year, the same team opened Goblin or the 2015 TG38, the second extreme dwarf planet, located at 80 AU. All teams, including FarFarOut, were unveiled by this team with the Japanese Subaru 8-meter telescope located in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Other previously known remote objects are Eris 96 AU and Pluto 34 AU.

FarFarOut image between yellow crosses.
Picture: Scott Sheppard / Carnegie Institute for Science

This trio of astronomers has been washing the Kuiper belt for many years, making the largest and deepest survey ever made in the region. This search could lead to a hypothetical nine planetary discoveries, sometimes referred to as planet X, which is believed to exist due to anomalous orientation of some objects on the outer part of the solar system. Planet X is yet to be found, but with each of the other Kuiper belt items, astronomers are approaching either proving or refuting its existence.

"It's fascinating to look at the sky that no one is ever as deep as we are," Sheppard told Gizmod. "To paraphrase Forrest Gump, every picture we take is like a chocolate box – you never know what you'll find."

He said that the ability to detect objects at such extreme distances depends on the size of the object, and we should be able to see large objects, even if they are really far away. FarFarOut is about 250 miles (400 kilometers) long, close to our current ability to discover about 140 AU. Indeed, in the figure that shows FarFarOut, the object appears as a weak spot of light. If it had been less, FarFarOut could avoid detection, Sheppard explained. This means that if objects larger than FarFarOut exceed 140 AU, we should be able to detect them.

"In our survey, we have covered about 25 percent of the sky, so there are probably more larger objects than FarFarOut that we should be able to discover," said Sheppard.

Presently, the existence of this probable extreme dwarf planet has not been conclusively proven. Sheppard must see it again to confirm that it really is and confirm your orbit.

"At the moment we've only seen FarFarOut for a 24-hour period," he said. “These detection observations show that the object is about 140 AU, but it could also be between 130 and 150 AU. We also don't know its orbit because we haven't made the necessary observations. "

But while this snowstorm can be credited to motivate this discovery, the bad weather is now a major obstacle.

"At the moment I am in the Magellan Telescope in Chile, and we look forward to good weather in the coming days to follow this interesting site again," he said.

[Science Magazine]

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