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Scientists have discovered the farthest body observed in our solar system. The body is situated over 100 times farther than the Sun is from our planet. The new object discovered by Scott S Sheppard from Carnegie Institution for Science, David Tholen from the University of Hawaii, and Chad Trujillo from Northern Arizona University in the US, will be called the 2018 VG18.
The object has been nicknamed "Farout" by the team because of its distant location. The object is about 120 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
Eris, the second most distant object observed in the solar system is at 96 AU. Pluto stands at 34Au, making 2018 VG18 more than three-and-a-half times farther than the famous dwarf planet. The discovery is a part of the team's hunt for extremely distant objects in the solar system, including the Planet X, which is sometimes also referred to as Planet 9.
The same team also discovered the 2015 TG387 which was nicknamed "The Goblin" as it was first seen at the time of Halloween. The Goblin stands about 80AU and has an orbit that seems influenced by an unseen Super-Earth-sized Planet X on the solar system's very distant fringes.
2015 TG387 and 2012 VP113 have never been close enough to other giant planets like Jupiter and Neptune, to have any kind of gravitational interactions. This indicates that these extremely distant objects can be probes of what is happening in the solar system's outer reaches.
"2018 VG18 is much more distant and slower moving than any other observed solar system object, so it will take a few years to fully determine its orbit," said Sheppard. "But it was found in a similar location on the sky to the other known extreme solar system objects, suggesting it might have the same type of orbit that most of them do," he said.
"The orbital similarities shown by many of the known small, distant solar system bodies was the catalyst for our original assertion that there is a distant, massive planet at several hundred AU shepherding these smaller objects," he added.
"All that we currently know about 2018 VG18 is its extreme distance from the Sun, its approximate diameter, and its color," said Tholen. "Because 2018 VG18 is so distant, it orbits very slowly, likely taking more than 1,000 years to take one trip around the Sun," he said.
The first images of the "Farout" were taken at the Japanese Subaru 8-metre telescope located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii on November 10, 2018. The object appeared for the second time in early December at the Magellan telescope at Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.
After a week of monitoring, the Magellan observations confirmed that 2018 VG18 is around 120 AU, making it the first Solar System object observed beyond 100 AU.