It’s really far, far away.
The mysterious astronomical object is 140 times farther from the Sun than the Earth.
The discovery was made by Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington D.C.
During the weekend, a heavy snowstorm struck his city, and a talk he had to give was canceled.
Therefore, he started studying data obtained from telescopic observations that his team had gathered last month in their periodic search of the gigantic and hypothetical Planet Nine, supposedly located in a far away orbit around the sun, in the outermost edges of the solar system.
And as Shepard was studying the data gathered by his colleagues, he saw it.
A faint cosmic object located at a distance 140 times farther from the Sun than our planet -i.e. the farthest object known so far to mankind, found at a distance 3.5 times farther than Pluto.
If the finding is confirmed, it would break the previous record, also belonging to the same team that, in December 2018, announced the discovery of a dwarf planet 120 times farther out than Earth and nicknamed Farout.
For now, Shepard has decided to call the new object Farfarout.
For the past ten years or so, Sheppard and his colleagues- Chad Trujillo of the University of Northern Arizona, and Dave Tholen of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu – have efficiently scrutinized the night sky using some of the most powerful wide-angle telescopes in the world.
And although the enigmatic Planet Nine still remains a mystery that can’t be solved, the persistent search for the elusive planet has resulted in the discovery of four-fifths of the objects known past 9 billion kilometers from the Sun.
Both Farout’s and Farfarout’s orbits have not been investigated yet; until then, it is unknown if they will remain free from the gravitational pull of the known giant planets (Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn), or if they will join another of Sheppard’s recent distant discoveries: The Goblin, an object that is located in a strange orbit around the sun, which suggests it is being influenced by a massive planet located somewhere in its vicinity.
“There are a lot of exotic and extreme objects yet to be found in the outer solar system,” said Sheppard in 2018.
“We are only just now uncovering what the very outer solar system might look like and what might be out there.”