Planet Nine Hunters Find New Dwarf planet ‘The Goblin’
The Goblin dwarf planet may lead to Planet Nine’s discovery!
The important new find also hints at the presence of another, much larger planet in the outer solar system.
This icy, distant world, which measures a mere 300km across, was found by a team of astronomers who had been hunting for the enigmatic and elusive Planet Nine.
Named ‘The Goblin’ due to its discovery during the Halloween season, the new dwarf planet has an extremely elongated orbit which takes it from around two-and-a-half times to a whopping 60 times the orbit of Pluto. It is thought to take an incredible 40,000 years just to complete a single orbit of the Sun.
This also means that 99% of the time, it is far too faint for us to see here on Earth.
“We are only just now uncovering what the very outer solar system might look like and what might be out there,” said Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC.
“We believe there are thousands of dwarf planets in the distant solar system. We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg right now.”
What makes this new dwarf planet particularly interesting is that it, like several other bodies in the outer solar system, appears to have an orbit influenced by another, much larger planet – one that astronomers have been struggling to locate for years.
“Despite centuries of surveys, our understanding of the solar system remains incomplete,” said Konstantin Batygin, assistant professor of planetary science at Caltech.
“This certainly adds to the growing ledger of… objects that show Planet Nine’s influence.”