Planet search turns up a dwarf called ‘The Goblin’

Subaru Telescope
The International Space Station leaves a streak above the Subaru Telescope in a long-exposure image. Observations using the Subaru Telescope led to the discovery of the mini-world known as The Goblin. (Subaru Telescope / NAOJ Photo / Hideaki Fujiwara)

While searching for a hypothetical Planet Nine, astronomers found a distant mini-world that’s been given a spooky nickname: “The Goblin.”

The icy object was found at a distance of about 80 astronomical units from the sun, which translates to 7.4 billion miles. (One astronomical unit, or AU, equals 93 million miles, which is the distance between Earth and the sun.) That’s more than twice as far away as dwarf planet Pluto.

A research team led by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution of Science first spotted The Goblin just before Halloween in 2015. That timing, plus the fact that it was given the numerical designation 2015 TG387, gave rise to the trick-or-treat nickname. (T.G. … Get it?)

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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