Announced on Tuesday by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, a newly discovered body has been found in our solar system known as 2015 TG387 (nicknamed “The Goblin”).
2015 TG387 was discovered about 80 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun, a measurement defined as the distance between the Earth and Sun. For context, Pluto is around 34 AU, so 2015 TG387 is about two and a half times further away from the Sun than Pluto is right now.
“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 difficult. Currently we would only detect 2015 TG387 when it is near its closest approach to the Sun. For some 99 percent of its 40,000-year orbit, it would be too faint to see.” says the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen.
What Is Planet X?
The Goblin was discovered while hunting for Planet X. A quick brush up on Planet X; Caltech researchers have found mathematical evidence suggesting there may be a “Planet X” deep in the solar system. This hypothetical Neptune-sized planet orbits our sun in a highly elongated orbit far beyond Pluto. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed “Planet Nine,” could have a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbit about 20 times farther from the sun on average than Neptune. It may take between 10,000 and 20,000 Earth years to make one full orbit around the sun.
The elongated orbit of 2015 TG387 and other similar objects could indicate the influence of a larger body in our solar system.
“These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X. The more of them we can find, the better we can understand the outer Solar System and the possible planet that we think is shaping their orbits—a discovery that would redefine our knowledge of the Solar System’s evolution,” notes Scott Sheppard added.
The existence of The Goblin, and other similar bodies, does not necessarily indicate the presence of Planet X but simulations have shown that its presence would guarantee orbit stability for 2015 TG387.