There’s a new dwarf planet in our solar system, and it’s the most distant one we’ve ever discovered. The tiny world, formally known as 2018 VG18 but nicknamed Farout, is about 18 billion kilometres away – roughly 3.5 times the distance to Pluto.
A team of astronomers discovered Farout using the Japanese Subaru telescope in Hawaii. Solar system objects like this are found by looking at a series of images of the same spot of sky for any dot that appears to be moving in comparison to the background stars.
“I said ‘far out!’ when I discovered it, and it’s a very far out object,” says team member Scott Sheppard at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC.
We don’t know much about Farout yet because of its extreme distance. The images showed that it is about 500 kilometres across, big enough for it to be a dwarf planet. It also appears to be a pinkish colour, which might indicate that it has an icy surface.