"This new object has the largest orbit of all the extremely distant objects that stay well beyond Pluto".
The world, estimated to have a width of a couple of hundred miles, is now about 7.4 billion miles from the sun, or about 2.5 times farther away than Pluto.
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". 2015 TG387 is one of the few known objects that never comes close enough to the Solar System's giant planets, like Neptune and Jupiter, to have significant gravitational interactions with them.
Pluto, the erstwhile ninth planet in our solar system, was downgraded from planet to dwarf planet in 2006. Then it heads off to the outermost fringes of the solar system, to nearly 60 times further out than Pluto, taking an astounding 40,000 years to loop once around the sun.
"We think there are thousands of these, and majority are too distant to detect", Sheppard said.
An artist's conception of distant "Planet X", which could be shaping the orbits of smaller extremely distant objects.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg", Sheppard said in an interview.
It is "about 300 kilometers in diameter, on the small end of a dwarf planet", according to astronomer Scott Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington.
"What makes this result really interesting is that Planet X seems to affect 2015 TG387 the same way as all the other extremely distant Solar System objects", said Northern Arizona University astronomer Chad Trujillo in the statement. "They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our solar system", Sheppard said.
The discovery was made using the Japanese Subaru 8-metre telescope located on the dormant Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.
The new find, which has been nicknamed "The Goblin", was introduced Tuesday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center. Researchers ran computer simulations to understand how different hypothetical Planet X orbits would impact the orbit of 2015 TG387. "It's also 10-times more massive than Earth, but we haven't been able to see it yet, because we don't know exactly where it is", explained Pitts.
Pictured is a predicted orbit of the new dwarf planet, nicknamed "the goblin" (left). "These simulations do not prove that there's another massive planet in our solar system, but they are further evidence that something big could be out there", he said. "With other large telescopes, it is like looking through a straw and thus they are good for observing things you know are there, but not for finding new things as their field of views are too small for covering large areas of sky", said Sheppard. Sheppard, who found another similar object just four years ago, spent the next three years confirming the original sighting with his team and announced the find today in the Astronomical Journal.