It’s not Planet X, but 2015 TG387 is still pretty far out

A team led by astronomers Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo has been searching for a while for Planet X, which is supposed to orbit the Sun somewhere in the Oort Cloud far beyond the other planets. To do this, they are studying the areas of interest particularly closely – and keep coming up with interesting discoveries in the process.

This time the result is called 2015 TG387. The object was first registered in 2015; scientists needed until today to confirm its orbit, which leads it once around the Sun every 40,000 years. 2015 TG387 is one of the most distant dwarf planets in our Solar System. It never gets closer to the Sun than 65 astronomical units (AU, distance from the Earth to the Sun) and its distance ranges up to 2300 AU.

Although the object itself is only around 300 kilometers (186 miles) in size, its discovery is still progress for the scientists – they hope. Its motion data, together with data from other objects of the Oort Cloud, might provide clues to the sought-after Planet X. Something, the scientists think, must have used its gravitational pull to move these dwarf planets into their extreme orbits. The gas giants of the Solar System are out of the question, because the objects never get close enough to them. Computer simulations show that a planet at a distance of a few hundred AU and with a mass several times the mass of the Earth could actually influence the distant dwarf planets in the way that is observed.

Artist’s rendering of 2015 TG387 (picture: Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard / Carnegie Institution for Science)
The newly discovered dwarf planet in our Solar System (picture: Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard / Carnegie Institution for Science)
The orbit of the dwarf planet 2015 TG387 (picture: Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard / Carnegie Institution for Science)

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