Smoke Signals

Astronomers Identify a New Dwarf Planet

Courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine

Courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine

Ashley Driesler, Staff Writer

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On November 10th, astronomers recognised a new dwarf planet resonating within the Milky Way. This object was named 2018 VG18 and was shortly after nicknamed Farout because it is estimated to be over three times as far away from the Earth than Pluto is.

  Farout gained attention because it was the only object to show movement when the Subaru Telescope took two seperate images an hour apart. The newly identified mass is now the most distant object in the solar system.

  Farout is a spherical dwarf planet with a pink-tinted surface. This sort of color is common for far distance icy objects in the Milky Way. It is estimated to be approximately 500 kilometers, or 311 miles wide.

  Jen Gurule (9) stated, “It’s very interesting to hear about a new mass in our solar system. I’ve only ever imagined that there were only eight planets, and to think there could be more is insane. These new discoveries really do change your perception of how space works.”

  The discovery of Farout has indeed amazed many, including discoverer David Tholen from the University of Hawaii who stated, “Because 2018 VG18 is so distant, it orbits very slowly, likely taking more than 1,000 years to take one trip around the Sun.”  

  The exact time it takes for the dwarf to orbit the sun is uncertain.

  Tholen, along with fellow discoverer and partner Chad Trujillo from Northern Arizona University, hope to find a super-Earth-sized planet on the outskirts of the solar system. They have found evident signs of large space objects being pulled by such a planet, justifying the search.

  Prior to Farout’s discovery, researchers also found a similar distant object. It was nicknamed Goblin, and had an odd observed orbit. Researchers hypothesize that it was being affected by the same unidentified planet Tholen and Trujillo hope to find. There is debate on whether or not Farout is also being affected by this same super planet.

  Lily McKaig (10) stated, “Finding a new mass in orbit is quite fascinating, but also discovering a possibly new planet by using just the evidence of a gravitational pull is huge. Science seems to have already reached the next level.”

  Astronomers are continuing to identify new stars, masses, and entities in our universe. Due to their hard work, they are able to learn more and more about what exists past our own solar system.

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Ashley Driesler, Staff Writer

Ashley Driesler is a Staff Writer in Smoke Signals and currently a junior at West High. She is passionate about writing and wrestling.

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