A tiny dwarf planet has been detected on the edge of the Solar System

Planet X

A new object far removed from the Sun, well beyond Neptune, was detected by American astrophysicists who were trying to find planet X, this ninth planet that would would be hidden somewhere within our Solar System.

Though they have not yet detected this mysterious Planet X, astrophysicist Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute and his colleagues believe that the orbit of this new object supports the presence of a planet even more distant, perhaps a super-Earth.

Indeed, the long elongated orbit of the new object named 2015 TG387, which they nicknamed “the Goblin” suggests that a ninth planet could be in the Oort cloud, the extreme limit of our system, well beyond the Kuiper belt, the last asteroid belt.

If the presence of these two bodies are confirmed, the outer limits of our system will be completely redrawn. At present, the most distant known dwarf planet is Pluto, which is at a distance of 5880 million kilometers from the Sun.


Representation of the elliptical orbit of TG387. Photo: Carnegie Institute for Science

The dwarf planet that would have been detected would be an icy world with an estimated diameter of 300 km. It would be a “small” dwarf planet. At its closest point to the sun, it is found at about 2.5 times farther than Pluto. At the farthest distance, it is located 60 times farther than Pluto.

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This object would be the third dwarf planet discovered in the last years on the borders of the system, after 2003 UB313 and the star 2012 VP113. These objects from within the Oort cloud are extremely interesting to study. They can be used as probes to understand what is happening on the periphery of our solar system. “We think there could be thousands of small bodies like 2015 TG387 on the periphery of the Solar System, but their distance makes them very difficult to detect,” says David Tholen from the University of Hawaii.

The researchers argue that a hypothetical planet X seems to affect 2015 TG387 in the same way that it would affect all other objects extremely far from the Sun. If the current simulations do not prove that there is another massive planet in our system, they are further proof that something huge is in its confines.

Carl Frantz

Polyglot, humanitarian, Carl was born in Germany but raised in the USA. He writes mostly on tech, science and culture.