A new object has been discovered in the distant reaches of our solar system and given the name FarFarOut, according to a prominent astronomer.
At 140 times further away from the sun than our own planet is, the newly identified body – if its discovery is confirmed – will become the furthest known object in our solar system.
The current record holder – a dwarf planet at 120 times the Earth-sun distance – was named merely FarOutwhen it was spotted by the same team in December last year.
The latest discovery was made by Dr Scott Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC, who with his team is working on analysing astronomical data to track down a much mooted but as yet unspotted body known as Planet Nine, thought to have 10 times the mass of Earth.
The hypothetical Planet Nine, thought to be lurking in the distant Oort cloud, has been suggested as exerting a gravitational pull on objects in the depths of the solar system, including the recently discovered dwarf planet The Goblinand another object named Biden.
Sheppard said he made the discovery of FarFarOut when a lecture he was due to give on his team’s work was postponed and he went back to analysing his data.
“This is hot off the presses,” he said, giving his rescheduled lecture in Washington DC on Thursday. “Yesterday it snowed so I had nothing to do so I went looking through some of our data.”
He said FarFarOut was somewhat mysterious. “It is very faint; it is on the edge of our ability to detect it,” Sheppard said. “We don’t know anything about the orbit of this object, we just know it is far, far out.”
Sheppard said further observations were in the offing to shed more light on the find.