Of the last discovery in the least surprising and original space is the name with which it has been baptized: «Farout» (far). The rest has an undoubted relevance for the exploration of the universe.
A team of astronomers from the Carnegie scientific organization has discovered the most distant body ever observed until now in our Solar System, at a distance 120 times greater than the one that separates the Earth and the Sun, baptized with the scientific name of 2018 VG18 and nicknamed with the aforementioned "Farout".
As he explains Carnegie Science In a statement, the new object is approximately 120 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun, above the second most distant object observed from the Solar System, Eris, at approximately 96 UA
To get an idea of what this means, Pluto is currently about 34 AU, which makes the 2018 VG18 more than three and a half times farther than the most famous dwarf planet in the Solar System.
The new object was announced on Monday, December 17, 2018 by the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union. The discovery was made by Scott S. Sheppard of Carnegie, David Tholen of the University of Hawaii and Chad Trujillo of the University of Northern Arizona.
2018 VG18 was discovered as part of the continuous search for the extremely distant objects of the Solar System, including the supposed Planet X or Planet 9. In October, the same group of researchers announced the discovery of another object distant from the Solar System, called 2015 TG387 and nicknamed «The Goblin», because it was first seen near Halloween. The Goblin was discovered at approximately 80 AU and has an orbit that is consistent with the influence of an invisible X Planet the size of a Super Earth in the very distant fringes of the Solar System.
The existence of a ninth important planet in the margins of the Solar System was first proposed by this same research team in 2014 when they discovered the 2012 VP113, nicknamed Biden, which is currently close to 84 AU.
«2015 TG387 and 2012 VP113 never get close enough to the giant planets of the Solar System, like Neptune and Jupiter, to have important gravitational interactions with them. This means that these extremely distant objects can be evidence of what is happening in the outer reaches of the Solar System. The team still does not know very well the orbit of 2018 VG18, so they have not been able to determine if it shows signs of being formed by Planet X », explains the Carnegie association.
"2018 VG18 is much more distant and slower than any other observed object in the Solar System, so it will take a few years to fully determine its orbit," explains Sheppard. "But it was found in a similar location in the sky to the other known extreme objects of the Solar System, suggesting that It could have the same type of orbit as most of them. The orbital similarities shown by many of the known small and distant bodies of the Solar System were the catalyst for our original claim that there is a massive and distant planet in several hundred AUs that shepherd these smaller objects. "
At the moment, all that is known about 2018 VG18 is its extreme distance to the Sun, its approximate diameter and its color. The discovery images of 2018 VG18 were taken in the 8 meter Subaru Japanese telescope located at the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii on November 10, 2018.
Once VG18 2018 was found, it was necessary to re-observe it to confirm its very distant nature, since several observation nights are required to accurately determine the distance of an object. 2018 VG18 was seen for the second time in early December at the Magellan telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Carnegie, Chile. Now it remains to unravel all its secrets.