The Goblin, a distant dwarf planet has been discovered in observations that are redefining the outer reaches of the solar system. Astronomers made the finding while searching for a hypothetical massive planet that is suspected to be in orbit far beyond Pluto in a mysterious region known as the ‘Oort Cloud’.
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The Goblin appears to be under the gravitational influence of a giant unseen object, adding to astronomers’ certainty that it is out there. The dwarf planet is about 190 miles in diameter based on preliminary measurements. At its closest, it gets about two and a half times as far from the sun as Pluto.
These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X," study leader Scott Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, said in a statement.
"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," he added.
For 99 percent of its orbit, it would be too faint to see.
A round frozen world just 300 kilometres across, the Goblin was spotted by astronomers in 2015 around Halloween, thus its spooky name. But it wasn't publicly unveiled until now following further observations with ground telescopes. It is officially known as 2015 TG387 by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Centre.
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In 2016, astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown presented more evidence for such an unseen "perturber," which they called Planet Nine. Batygin and Brown have suggested that this world may be about 10 times more massive than Earth and orbit about 600 AU from the sun on average.