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Scientists find a frozen, scrawny dwarf planet nicknamed the Goblin

Its orbit is so stretched out that it takes 40,000 years to circle the sun.

An illustration of the possible planet that could be shaping the orbit of objects such as the Goblin.
An illustration of the possible planet that could be shaping the orbit of objects such as the Goblin. (Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science)
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A scrawny dwarf planet nicknamed the Goblin has been discovered well beyond Pluto.

The Goblin, a round frozen world just 186 miles across, got its spooky name because it was spotted by astronomers in 2015 around Halloween. But it wasn’t publicly unveiled until Tuesday, after further observations with ground telescopes.

Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science, one of the astronomers who made the discovery, said the Goblin is small for a dwarf planet. Goblin’s orbit is extremely elongated — so stretched out that it takes 40,000 years for it to circle the sun.

It’s the third dwarf planet recently found to be orbiting on the cold borders of our solar system.

At its closest, the Goblin — officially called 2015 TG387 — is 65 times farther from the sun than Earth.

The two other newly discovered dwarf planets are 90377 Sedna, found in 2003, which is about 620 miles across, and 2012 VP113, discovered in 2012, which is about 310 miles. They were found by some of the same astronomers.

Thousands — even a million — more such objects could be way out there orbiting the solar system, researchers said.

“These objects are on elongated orbits, and we can only detect them when they are closest to the sun. For some 99 percent of their orbits, they are too distant and thus too faint for us to observe them. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg,” Sheppard said.

“The more of them we can find, the better we can understand the outer solar system and the possible planet that we think is shaping their orbits — a discovery that would redefine our knowledge of the solar system’s evolution,” Sheppard said in a statement.

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