An astronomer has spotted a body that's about three times farther away from the sun than Pluto or around 103 astronomical units in reference to the sun, wherein one unit is equivalent to the distance of the Earth from the center of the solar system. The object is still under the influence of the sun's gravity, which makes it the farthest known object in the solar system.
The object is named as V774104 for now, is located just outside the Kuiper belt, which is where the former title holders Pluto and Eris reside. Before the latest finding, Eris was the farthest known object in the solar system at 96 AU from the sun.
Up to now, astronomers still cannot explain these far-flung icy objects beyond the Kuiper belt, because way out in the Oort Cloud, the known planetary laws and structures do not really apply. With his colleagues at the Carnegie Institution for Science, astronomer Scott Sheppard, made the discovery four weeks ago while observing the solar system from Hawaii.
"We don't know much about its orbit. If the object becomes interesting or not depends on its orbit," Sheppard announced during the 47th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences.
Astronomers now want to find out what type of orbit V774104 takes on. An orbit that brings the icy body closer to the sun could be explained by Neptune's gravity, but it could also be on a path, similar to Sedna and 2012 VP113.
If the latter is the case, then the icy world stays on an orbit that is still governed by the gravitational pull of the sun, making the newly discovered object a lot more interesting, according to Sheppard.
"We don't know of any other objects that are this far away from the sun," Sheppard said. "This can help us understand how the outer solar system was formed."
Astronomers will have to track the newly discovered body over the course of a year to find out just how interesting it is or isn't.