AU is a measurement defined as the distance between Earth and the Sun.
We believe that such small bodies in the outer Solar system should be thousands, but the distance at which they are, makes their detection rather hard. "Currently we would only detect 2015 TG387 when it is near its closest approach to the Sun". This also means the Goblin takes 40,000 years to complete one orbit of the sun. They consider it an inner Oort Cloud Object. In comparison, Pluto is only 34 AU away from the Sun. Because its so large, the gravitational pull of this unseen planet gives The Goblin a unique, extreme orbit that stretches to the truly outermost regions of our solar system, roughly 60 times as far away from the Sun as Pluto.
Having noticed similarities in other orbits beyond our Solar System, the pair proposed the presence of an unknown planet several times larger than Earth-known as Planet X or Planet Nine-orbiting the Sun at hundreds of AUs.
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"These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X", Sheppard said, emphasizing their importance in expanding and redefining our knowledge of the Solar System's evolution. However, instead of Planet X, scientists have now discovered a new dwarf planet they have dubbed "the Goblin". "These simulations do not prove that there's another massive planet in our Solar System, but they are further evidence that something big could be out there" said Trujillo. A paper with the full details of the discovery has also been submitted to The Astronomical Journal. 2015 TG387 can be seen moving between the images near the center, while the more distant background stars and galaxies remain stationary. The Goblin sits right in the middle of the cluster of known objects, he said, and the astronomical search helps scientists home in on Planet Nine's location.
The Goblin has a long, elliptical orbit which takes it almost 70 times further from the sun than Pluto (Illustration: Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science)Why is the Goblin important? Several years passed before they could confirm its existence because it has such a long orbital period and moves so slowly. Sheppard says a large and unknown planet could be "shepherding" these dwarf planets, directing them like a cosmic border collie around the solar system's fringe.
Sheppard and his colleagues continue their survey, the largest and deepest ever for distant solar system objects, by observing the northern and southern skies at all times of year. Many exo-systems have planets in this mass range, but so far, our Solar System seems to lacking one.
It's far from definitive evidence, but it's yet another step toward discovering or debunking the myth of Planet Nine.