Have scientists finally found proof of Planet X?

A look at the relative distance of 2015 TG387.                  Roberto Molar Candanosa  Scott Sheppard  Carnegie Institution for Science

A look at the relative distance of 2015 TG387. Roberto Molar Candanosa Scott Sheppard Carnegie Institution for Science

The discovery drew upon data from Japan's Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, the Discovery Channel Telescope and the Large Monolithic Imager at Lowell Observatory in Arizona, and the 6.5-meter Magellan Telescopes in Chile.

"I think we are nearing the 90 per cent likelihood of Planet X being real with this discovery", said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Only a few known objects in our solar system have comparable orbits, such as dwarf planets 2012 VP113 (nickname: Biden) and Sedna. Sheppard said he predicts thousands of objects the same size as 2015 TG387 dot the rim of our solar system.

No doubt the observation and naming of The Goblin-which is about 186 miles across, takes 40,000 years to orbit the sun-will set off new debates around planetary categorization.

Astronomers have discovered an object two and a half times further from the Sun than Pluto that adds to evidence of the existence of "Planet X".

TG387 is about 65 Astronomical Units (AU) away from the Sun. For context, Pluto is around 34 AU. Sheppard, along with colleagues at the University of Hawaii, the University of Oklahoma and Northern Arizona University, found the Goblin. The location in the sky where 2015 TG387 reaches perihelion is similar to 2012 VP113, Sedna, and most other known extremely distant trans-Neptunian objects, suggesting that something is pulling them into similar types of orbits. This has pointed astronomers to the existence of a ninth, super-Earth sized planet. This gravitational shepherding could explain why the most-distant objects in our Solar System have similar orbits. Without seeing the planet itself, scientists can only go by what they see other objects doing as they orbit, and several previous examples have shown that something large appears to be influencing the movements of objects far past Neptune. 2015 TG387 has a larger semi-major axis than either 2012 VP113 or Sedna, which means it travels much further from the Sun at its most distant point in its orbit, which is around 2300 AU. It takes about 40,000 years for a complete walk around the Sun (its year) and 99% of this time is too light to be seen from Earth. We were lucky we caught The Goblin when we did, says Sheppard, because it's only visible to use with current technology less than one percent of the time.

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But, she says "we're a lot closer to having enough objects" to give her more confidence that Planet Nine exists.

American astronomers have discovered in the Solar system, the dwarf planet in 2015 TG387 (Goblin). The AP is exclusively responsible for all content. A full report has been submitted to The Astronomical Journal.

The solar system as we know it, showing (l-r), Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

There's no doubt about it: the discovery of this far away dwarf planet is leading researchers closer and closer to finding out more than ever about what's in the furthest areas of the great beyond. "These simulations do not prove that there is another massive planet in our Solar System, but they are further evidence that something big could be out there".

In October 2017, NASA released a statement saying that Planet Nine may be 20 times further from the Sun than Neptune is, going so far as to say "it is now harder to imagine our solar system without a Planet Nine than with one".

'They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our Solar System'. The planet, if it exists, would be bigger than the Goblin or Pluto.

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