"Our solar system has become a bit scary," wrote Chelsea Whyte after the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center announced the discovery of a new dwarf planet on October 1.
The sky ball of ice is called The Goblin.
It has been discovered to orbit the Sun inland beyond Pluto, and its elongated path indicates that the long-sought Planet X could also travel through the outer reaches of the Solar System.
The dwarf planet, officially called 2015 TG387, has a diameter of about 300 kilometers.
It was first discovered by a team of astronomers who used the Subaru telescope in Hawaii in October 2015, hence the name of the Halloween theme.
Its extremely long orbit means that it is at times 2300 times as far from the sun as the earth and never approaches the sun, which is about twice as far as Pluto. The dwarf planet moves so slowly that it takes years to confirm its orbit with multiple observations.
"Currently, we would discover TG387 in 2015 only when it is near the sun," said David Tholen of the University of Hawaii in a statement. "For about 99% of its 40,000 year orbit, it would be too weak to see."
He and his colleagues found The Goblin on their hunt for the hypothetical planet X, a large planet that presumably lurked at the edge of the solar system and could explain disturbances on the lanes of smaller objects like The Goblin.
The gravitational force of such a large planet would attract smaller objects as they pass by, potentially rounding them into a group of objects orbiting together – like the one to which the goblin belongs.
The farthest objects in our solar system have similar elongated orbits. The team conducted simulations involving a super-Earth-like planet in the distant solar system, and found that such a planet would stabilize the goblin's orbit.
These simulations do not prove that there is another massive planet in our solar system, but they are further proof that something big might be out there, "said Chad Trujillo of North Arizona University in a statement.
The more we learn about the universe, the more we have to realize that its breadth is far beyond our brain's imagination. Who really understands infinity?