Scientists have discovered the most distant object known in solar system, so remote and unusual that they chose the nickname “Farout” for the slow-moving, icy, pinkish dwarf planet.
It is about 120 to 130 times further from the sun than Earth.
Astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington said on Tuesday that the dwarf planet, officially designated as 2018 VG18, had been estimated to have a diameter of 310 to 375 miles (500 to 600 km).
Sheppard said there are roughly 50 dwarf planets in the solar system and the bigger ones are Pluto, with a diameter of about 1,470 miles (2,370 km), and Eris, with a diameter of about 1,445 miles (2,325 km).
He added that “when I saw the object for the first time, it was moving so slowly, it was the slowest thing I’ve ever seen.
“So, I kind of muttered to myself, ‘Far out,” kind of like, ‘That’s cool.’ But it’s also a very-far-out object in distance, so that’s why I went with calling it ‘Farout.”
“We don’t know too much about it, we only detected it last month. From its brightness, we can determine its size. We know its colour.
“It has a pinkish, reddish hue to it. If you put ice out there and you irradiate them from the solar radiation over time, the ice turn kind of reddish, pinkish colour. So, we think its surface is probably ice-covered.”
Sheppard and other scientists spotted Farout during their search for extremely distant solar system objects, including a potential Planet X that he said could be five to 10 times the size of Earth.
In 2014, researchers proposed the existence of a ninth major planet at the outer reaches of the solar system.
They said Farout is moving so slowly that it might need more than 1,000 years for a single orbit of the sun.
The second-most-distant observed Solar System object is Eris.
It orbits at about 96 times the distance of the Sun to the Earth. Pluto orbits at about 34 times the distance of Earth from the Sun.