Scavenger hunt for Planet X just dropped another clue

  • While searching for the mysterious Planet X, researchers stumbled upon a dwarf planet dubbed the ‘Goblin’.
  • The Goblin, in itself, may not be a planet but its orbit trajectory indicated influence by an unknown larger planet.
  • This is the third planet to be discovered in the Kuiper belt that exhibits such behaviour.
While there’s a lot of information about the planets in our solar system, scientists are still on the cusp of discovering everything that lies beyond. The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center recently added to that trove of information by announcing the discovery of the ‘Goblin’.

Named as a homage to its discovery around Halloween of 2015, Scott Sheppard’s research team speculates that the dwarf planet’s orbit is dictated by Planet X, also called Planet Nine or ‘Super Earth’, in the what is dubbed as the Oort Cloud region.

So far three dwarf planets, including the Goblin, have been found in the fringes of our solar system that indicate the existence of a larger planet with considerable influence.

As a frame of reference it’s similar to the way in which Pluto and Neptune’s orbits eventually cross, though the planets never actually go anywhere near each other.

Breadcrumbs leading to Planet X

While Goblin may be the most recent discovery, two other dwarf planets in the Kuiper belt, dubbed Sedna and 2012 VP113, have also indicated the existence of Planet X with their orbit trajectory.

Rather than having a circular orbit around the sun, the planets take an elliptical course. Scientists believe that it indicates the presence of another gravitational force that’s affecting the orbit of these planets.

And, since similar orbits are being discovered in the same regions of the sky, the math suggests there has to be a common denominator governing that behaviour.

It’s suspected that Planet X is probably 10 times bigger than the Earth. That’s, more or less, the size of Neptune. And, since it’s so far away, one full orbit around the sun could take it nearly 10,000 to 20,000 Earth years.

The eight-metre Japanese Subaru telescope was key to making this discovery. Housed in Hawaii atop the dormant Mauna Kea volcano, the telescope is one-of-a-kind being able to capture images that stretch to the ends of our solar system.

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