Scientists find a frozen, scrawny dwarf planet nicknamed the Goblin

Carnegie Institution for Science

Measuring just 300km across, the tiny ice world has an enormous elongated orbit, and is 2.5 times as far from the sun as Pluto at its closest.

TG387 was first spotted in 2015, by the Japanese Subaru 8-meter telescope located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, hence the name, but after three years of study, astronomers have, for the first time released details about its discovery. The Goblin's orbit is consistent with the much-talked-about but yet-to-be-proven Planet 9. It takes this planetoid 40,000 years to loop around the Sun once and it's one of the most inhospitable places ever discovered by humans. But it wasn't publicly unveiled until Tuesday, after further observations with ground telescopes. The University of Hawaii's David Tholen said, "We think there could be thousands of small bodies like 2015 TG387 out on the solar system's fringes, but their distance makes finding them very hard".

Now, somewhat more importantly for our understanding of our solar system, a dwarf planet dubbed "The Goblin" has been discovered on its outer fringes.

Simply, the solar system is packed with so many small planets and the discoveries just keep on coming!

Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science, one of the astronomers who made the discovery, said the Goblin is small for a dwarf planet.

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Sheppard and Trujillo, an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University, previously discovered 2012 VP113, which was revealed in 2014. The location in the sky where 2015 TG387 reaches perihelion is similar to 2012 VP113, Sedna, and most other known extremely distant trans-Neptunian objects, suggesting that something is pulling them into similar types of orbits.

This is a region of the distant solar system where comets are thought to be and there is even speculation that a large gas giant planet much like Jupiter may inhabit this region of space.

Astronomers looking for the mysterious ninth planet, or planet X, have found a dwarf planet.

"These so-called Inner Oort Cloud objects like 2015 TG387, 2012 VP113, and Sedna are isolated from most of the solar system's known mass, which makes them immensely interesting", Sheppard explained.

It took that long to pin down the planet's orbit, with help from the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and the Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona. Its orbit has a larger semi-major axis than both 2012 VP11 and Sedna, so it travels much farther from the Sun, out to 2300 AU. But if they're not being tugged on by the planets we know about, that leaves the door open for interactions with objects we haven't yet discovered, like Planet Nine. For some 99 percent of their orbits, they are too distant and thus too faint for us to observe them.

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