A team of scientists discovered the most distant object that has been observed in the solar system.
According to Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at Carnegie Institution for Science, the object is 3.5 times more distant from the Sun than Pluto.
The recent discovery lies far beyond Farout, the dwarf planet that in December, Sheppard and team announced was the most distant object observed in the solar system. FarOut (officially called 2018 VG18) is about 120 times farther than Earth is from the sun.
Into The Fringes Of The Solar System
The newly observed object, which Sheppard nicknamed as "FarFarOut," was discovered just this week while looking at telescopic views of the fringes of the Solar System. The team noticed a faint object while in search for the hypothesized ninth planet.
FarFarOut, according to Sheppard during his rescheduled talk on Thursday, Feb. 21 via Science Magazine, is 140 times farther to the sun than Earth. Like FarOut, FarFarOut is still shrouded in mystery; right now, scientists cannot describe the new object's orbit.
The Search For Planet X
The search for Planet X, the hypothesized ninth planet that is far bigger than Earth, has yielded four-fifths of the currently known objects that are more than 9 billion kilometers away from the sun. Using the most powerful telescopes, Sheppard and his team have been searching for Planet X at the edge of the solar system.
By observing distant objects like FarOut and FarFarOut, the team believes that they could find smoking gun signals that will confirm the existence of the undiscovered planet. Their behavior could serve as the indicators of the influence or gravitational tug of the ninth planet.
The two objects will join a dwarf planet nicknamed "the Goblin" which, according to Sheppard, behaves exactly the way they predicted if Planet X exists. Finding more distant objects could help scientists pin down the location and orbit of the hypothesized ninth planet.
"There are a lot of exotic and extreme objects yet to be found in the outer solar system," stated Sheppard in 2018. "We are only just now uncovering what the very outer solar system might look like and what might be out there."