FarFarOut: the new farthest object in our solar system

In December 2018, astronomers discovered the farthest known object in our solar system, which is about 120 times farther than Earth is from the Sun (120 Astronomical Units -AU) and named it “Farout” (far-out-there). But its record didn’t last long. Now, while searching for the hypothetical Planet X, Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. has found what might be the most distant object ever identified in the Solar System. It orbits the Sun at a massive distance of 140 Astronomical Units (AU), and for now, the astronomers are jokingly calling the new object “FarFarOut”.

For comparison, former ninth planet, now a dwarf planet, Pluto’s average distance from the Sun is 40 astronomical units. Its current distance is 34 AU. The object is more than 3.5 times the current distance between Pluto and the sun.

Farfarout distance from the Sun
Farfarout distance from the Sun. It is further away from the previous record holder, the “Farout” (far-out-there). (Scott Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science)

Astronomers know very less about the new object, just like the Farout, also spotted by the same team in December 2018. It also needs to be re-observed to confirm its very distant nature. But the team is planning further observations. Sheppard says: “It is very faint; it is on the edge of our ability to detect it. We don’t know anything about the orbit of this object, we just know it is far, far out.”

An annotated gif of Farfarout from the recorded video.

Notes

  1. An Astronomical Unit (AU) is the average distance between Earth and the Sun, which is about 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers. Astronomical units are usually used to measure distances within our Solar System.

Sources

  • “Astronomers Just Detected The Most Distant Solar System Object Ever Seen” on Science Alert
  • Astronomers discover solar system’s most distant object, nicknamed ‘FarFarOut’ on Science Mag
  • “FarFarOut: astronomer finds a potential furthest object in the solar system” on The Guardian
  • Forget ‘FarOut’: ‘FarFarOut’ the new farthest object in the solar system on CNet

M. Özgür Nevres

I am a software developer, an ex-road racing cyclist, and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about the planet Earth and science on this website, ourplnt.com. You can check out my social media profiles by clicking on their icons.

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