Thinking about the existence of objects that are part of our “housing estate” beyond Pluto is a beautiful challenge, but scientists at the University of Northern Arizona, the Carnegie Institute and the Hawaii Institute of Astronomy, all in the United States, have discovered such an example , so far away that it took approximately two years to confirm that it was, in fact, a “resident” of this region in space.
In any case, 2018 AG37, the official designation of the celestial body, granted by the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, finally took the place of its predecessor, FarOut, and became, for the moment, the most distant resident of the Solar System.
Capture of the 2018 AG37, so, so distant object.Source: Reproduction
Currently located about 132 AU, a measure equivalent to the distance between the Earth and its star, FarFarOut, nickname given to the personality in question, has an incredibly distorted, large, elongated and slow orbital path, reaching 175 AU in its position but distant and only 27 AU when closer to the Sun – which makes Neptune and “the others” take the last positions (depending on the perspective adopted, of course).
Scott Sheppard, one of the researchers responsible for the finding, says that it takes a long time to observe trajectories to reach any conclusions, which prevented the team from spreading the news until then. “All we knew was that the object seemed to be very distant at the time of discovery,” he adds.
Have we arrived yet?
With all the necessary data in hand, the team’s expectation is that it will soon receive the analysis, confirmation from other institutions and the official name. Furthermore, it does not rule out the possibility that it may be classified as a dwarf planet, like the aforementioned Pluto, sometimes four times closer to the Sun than the new specimen.
In fact, one of the hypotheses that can explain its tortuous paths is, precisely, the intersection between its orbit and that of Neptune, because gravitational interactions would mess things up – and a year in FarFarOut lasts a millennium on Earth, considering our way of accounting it (a complete loop around Astro Rei).
Other assumptions are on the table, such as formation and size. Due to its brightness, it is estimated to be about 400 kilometers in diameter and rich in ice.
Neptune is directly related to FarFarOut.Source: Reproduction
Chad Trujillo, from the University of Northern Arizona, suggests that the 2018 AG37 is capable of providing aspects of the formation and evolution of its “neighbor”. “FarFarOut was probably launched into the outer solar system because it is very close to Neptune in the distant past. FarFarOut will probably interact with Neptune again in the future,” he points out. In addition, Sheppard argues that what they have achieved is a good indication of the ability to map the edges of the Solar System.
Technological evolution, in turn, played a fundamental role in this story, says Scott. “Only with the advances of large digital cameras in huge telescopes has it been possible to discover, with efficiency, the existence of very distant objects like FarFarOut. (…) It is just the tip of the iceberg”, says the researcher, and he knows than you speak. After all, both FarOut and a distant dwarf planet nicknamed Goblin were already part of the achievements of the team in which he participates.
Finally, it is necessary to make a reservation. Other objects, such as the dwarf planet Sedna, go much further, they just aren’t now. In addition, scientists think that there are trillions of comets in the Oort Cloud of our Solar System, which starts at about 5,000 AU. The ranking, like some we know, changes all the time – but it is good to celebrate, even if the joy is not definitive.