This is not the ninth planet, which will take the place of Pluto, to be demoted to the rank of dwarf planet in 2006, but a similar : a celestial body having a mass sufficient to have adopted a spherical shape without having made a vacuum in its wake. A team of researchers has recently discovered a new dwarf planet, moving almost four times further from the Sun than Pluto, in the mysterious Kuiper belt. Precisely, it orbits very slowly around our star at about 120 astronomical units (AU, or 120 times the distance which separates the Earth from the Sun), the equivalent of 18 billion kilometres. This is the celestial body of the solar system the most distant ever observed. Provisionally named 2018 VG18 by the international astronomical Union, it was immediately nicknamed Farout by its discoverers, in connection with his position : “far out” in English (” very far “, in French).

This infographic, to scale, allows to represent the distance that separates Farout of the Sun and the other planets and dwarf planets of the solar system.

© Roberto Molar Candanosa/Scott S. Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

Its first detection has been made the 10th of November last, with the help of the telescope Subaru, based on the island of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, by a team composed of Scott Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institution, David Tholen, university of Hawaii, and Chad Trujillo, of the Northern Arizona University. This group of scientists is involved in the stalking of the famous planet 9 as postulated by Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). A body whose size would be between that of Earth (approximately 12 756 km in diameter), and Neptune (about 49 244 kilometers in diameter), while Farout, it is only about 500 kilometers in diameter. It is at this stage almost everything that we know of it. If this is that its detection has been confirmed through the telescope, Magellan, located in Chile, and that its dewy glow suggests that its surface is ice. Which there is nothing surprising in this very cold region of the solar system.

now, even if this will take time given the slow pace at which it evolves Farout, the researchers will be interested in the path of its orbit. Simply because it can help them in their quest for the planet 9 weighing for or against its existence. Indeed, located much deeper than this, between 250 and 1 200 AU, the planet mass should nevertheless exercise its gravitational influence on Farout and therefore on its orbit.

In October, the same team of researchers had discovered another transneptunian object (progressing beyond the orbit of Neptune), baptized 2015 TG387 and nicknamed The Goblin, The Goblin). The orbit of this object, located at about 80 AU, which would be apparently consistent with the existence of the still-not-found planet 9. And that, according to our sources, some researchers, however, initially enthusiastic, began to seriously doubt the existence… A true soap opera suspense !


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