Far out! New Planet VG18, or “Farout” Discovered

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Far out! New Planet VG18, or “Farout” Discovered

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As of December 17, 2018, astronomers at the Carnegie Institution for Science and the

International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center announced the discovery of a possible

new dwarf planet. The 2018 VG18, or “Farout” is the farthest known planet to be discovered in

the solar system as of right now, hence the name. Because of its immense distance from the Sun,

it is a planet that is big enough to be categorized as a dwarf planet. To discover it, the team at

Carnegie University used the Subaru telescope. Later on, the Magellan telescope was used to

figure out the brightness, color, and orbital path of the planet. When they found it, they were

using the Japanese Subaru telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

“I said ‘far out!’ when I discovered it, and it’s a very far out object,” says team member Scott Sheppard at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC.

Not much is known about Farout because of its vast distance from the Earth. Images of the planet show that it is about 500 kilometers (310.7 miles), making it big enough to be considered a planet since it is visible from that far away. Scientists say that finding out the orbit of the planet will take several years because the planet’s orbit is probably thousands of years long, so it won’t be easy to figure it out quickly. To put it to comparison, Pluto is 34 astronomical units, or AU, (3,160,497,400 miles) away from Earth, and Eris, the farthest discovered planet before Farout, is 96 AU (8,923,757,500 miles) away. Since the farther the object is orbiting the sun the slower it orbits, this means that the orbit of Farout must take much longer to orbit the sun. It is about 120 times Earth’s distance from the sun. Since the planet is pink, it is concluded that this means it is a planet with a lot of ice. The only facts known about the planet is its length from the sun, its color, and its diameter. Farout is estimated to have a diameter of 500 to 600 km (310 to 375 miles). That is smaller than pluto with a diameter of 2370 km (1470 miles) and Eris, with a diameter of 2325 km (1445 miles).

Astronomers will continue to study more about this newest dwarf planet discovery but it is clear that our solar system is growing and there may be more out there than ever realized before which is pretty far out!