The planetoid ‘Farfarout’ is the most distant known object in the Solar System


The most distant known object in our Solar System has been identified by astronomers.

It has been given the appropriate nickname “Farfarout” and is classified as a “planetoid”.

This means that it is too small to be considered a planet or a dwarf planet, but it is still a mass that orbits our Sun.

There was a time when astronomers thought that Pluto was the most distant object orbiting the Sun.

Advances in technology mean that scientists now have a much deeper look into space.

Known scientifically as 2018 AG37, Farfarout is located about 20 billion miles from the Sun.

By comparison, Earth is only 150 million kilometers away.

The dwarf planet Pluto is about 3.7 billion miles away.

However, Farfarout occasionally zooms in on the Sun and Earth on its 1000-year orbital path.

Its orbit shape means that there is a point every 1,000 years that Farfarout gets closer to the Sun than Neptune and Pluto.

This GIF shows the movement of Farfarout, highlighted, between January 15-16, 2018, as seen with the Subaru telescope.
This GIF shows the movement of Farfarout, highlighted, between January 15-16, 2018, as seen with the Subaru telescope.
Scott S. Sheppard / Carnegie Institution for Science

So it might be the farthest object in our Solar System for now, but it won’t always retain that title.

There is a dwarf planet called Goblin that is currently closer to the Sun than Farfarout, but has the potential to move much further away on its orbital path.

Researcher David Tholen from the University of Hawai’i said: “Farfarout’s orbital dynamics can help us understand how Neptune formed and evolved, as Farfarout was likely thrown into the outer Solar System by getting too close to Neptune in the distant past.

“Farfarout is likely to interact with Neptune again, as their orbits continue to cross.”

Farfarout’s 1000-year orbit time meant that researchers had to study it for years to determine its trajectory.

It was actually discovered in 2018, but its exact distance hadn’t been determined until recently.

Astronomers think it is about 250 miles wide.

It will remain under scrutiny and eventually given an official name that is more serious than Farfarout and less data specific than 2018 AG37.

An artist's conception of "Farfarout" in the confines of our Solar System.
An artist’s conception of “Farfarout” in the confines of our Solar System.
NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / J. da Silva

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