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Scientists Say 'The Goblin' Could Prove Planet X

Scientists find dwarf planet that points to unknown gravitational object
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2018 5:00 PM CDT
An artist's rendering of the hypothetical Planet Nine.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Scientists call it The Goblin—a far-off dwarf planet that's adding to evidence of a mystery planet way, way out there. First seen in October 2015, the icy world seems to be orbiting something big in a distant region of the solar system called the Oort Cloud, Space.com reports. A team led by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, spent three years tracking the dwarf planet's astounding orbit, which reaches a point nearly 60 times further from the sun than Pluto and takes 40,000 years to complete, per the Guardian. Two other dwarf planets are orbiting the same area, suggesting some huge unseen object is out there in a region NASA describes as "a thick bubble of icy debris that surrounds our solar system."

"These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X," says Sheppard in a statement, referring to a hypothetical planet he first proposed with a colleague in 2014 to explain orbits of other Oort Cloud dwarf planets called Sedna and 2012 VP113, per Space.com. Also known as Planet Nine, this possible world could be hovering on the edge of our solar system or existing entirely outside it, ejected long ago. Sheppard says he plans to further investigate by seeking more evidence of distant dwarf planets—worlds too small to be called full-sized planets. "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 says. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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