Hover over ‘Farout’, astronomers confirm that ‘Farfarout’ is the farthest known object in the Solar System


A view of the night sky from the Uruguayan countryside on May 10, 2019.

A view of the night sky from the Uruguayan countryside on May 10, 2019.
Photo: Mariana Suarez (fake images)

What astronomers believed to be the most distant object in the Solar System, “Farout”, lost its title after just two years. That crown now goes to “Farfarout” (zero points for creativity, guys), a planetoid that is more than 130 times further from the Sun than Earth.

As seen by Reverse, after years of observations, astronomers have confirmed that the planetoid designated by the Minor Planet Center as 2018 AG37, nicknamed Farfarout, is the farthest known object in the Solar System at 132 astronomical units from the Sun.

A single AU is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun, also known as 92 million miles or 148 million kilometers. (For reference, the previous Farout headline, officially designated 2018 VG18, is “only” 120 AU away.) That means Farfarout is roughly 12.3 billion miles or 19.7 billion kilometers away, or for context, about four times farther from the Sun than Pluto. At that distance, the planetoid completes a single orbit around the Sun only once in a millennium.

“Because of this long orbital period, it moves very slowly across the sky, requiring several years of observations to accurately determine its trajectory,” said David Tholen, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy and a member of the team. behind the discovery. , said in a statement this week.

the The team, Tholen, Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Chad Trujillo of the Northern Arizona University, originally viewed the planetoid in 2018 using the 8-meter Subaru. telescope located on top of the dormant Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii. In subsequent years, they have used the Gemini North telescope, also located on Mauna Kea, and the Magellan telescope in Chile to determine Farfarout’s orbit and confirm its status as the farthest known object in our Solar System.

“Farfarout’s discovery shows our growing ability to map the outer solar system and increasingly look towards the limits of our solar system,” Sheppard said in this week’s statement. “Only with the advances in recent years of large digital cameras in very large telescopes has it been possible to efficiently discover very distant objects like Farfarout.”

There is still much that scientists do not know about this incredibly distant planetoid, but they have uncovered some clues in their research. The team believes that it is at the “lower end” of the scale for dwarf planets “assuming it is an ice-rich object”, and has an estimated diameter of about 248 miles (400 km). It has an incredibly elongated orbit that intersects Neptune, leading scientists to speculate that Farfarout may have once been a much closer planetary neighbor, but it possibly drifted too close to Neptune and was thrown into the confines of our System. Solar as a result of the gravity of the celestial body much higher.

Astronomers believe that studying Farfarout may offer insight into how Neptune formed and evolved in our Solar System, and the two are likely to interact once again due to their intersecting orbits.

It is not known how long Farfarout will retain its title, especially considering the rapid advancements of our ground-based telescopes. Sheppard called the planetoid “just the tip of the iceberg of solar system objects in the very distant solar system.” Who knows, maybe by this time next year we will have a FarfarFARin our hands.

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