The object, a 200-mile-wide planetoid dubbed “2015 TG387,” is nearly 8 billion miles from earth, according to scientists from the International Astronomical Union (IAU). That’s about two and half times as distant from the sun as Pluto.
Even more exciting than the discovery of the object, astronomers have calculated the satellite’s orbit and suggested it may be under the grip of a much larger, even more distant heavenly body.
“We think there could be thousands of bodies like 2015 TG387 out on the solar system’s fringes, but their distance makes finding them very difficult,” said research team member David Tholen from the University of Hawaii.
The discovery was made as part of the ongoing hunt for ‘Planet X,’ an illusive theoretical planet with an extreme orbit that some have suggested could have a mass 10 times that of earth.
NASA was quick to put its trademark kibosh on any farflung speculation, saying “the existence of this distant world is only theoretical at this point and no direct observation of the object nicknamed have been made.”
The new finding represents the latest stunning discovery to come out of the most comprehensive deep-field survey ever conducted on distant solar objects.
“These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X,” said astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution.
Source: USA Today