Astronomers confirm the most distant object in the Solar System

Jon Fingas
·Associate Editor
·1 min read

The most distant Solar System object, Farout, has lost its crown after just two years. As Inverse reports, astronomers have confirmed that the planetoid Farfarout is now the farthest known Solar System object. It's currently 132AU, or about 12.3 billion miles from the Sun (Farout is 'just' 120AU away), and its elongated orbit will take it 175AU away. For context, Pluto is 34AU from our host star — Farfarout reaches over five times that distance, and takes about 1,000 years to complete an orbit.

Researchers first detected Farfarout in 2018 using the Subaru telescope at Mauna Kea in Hawaii, but had to use the Gemini and Magellan telescopes to verify its orbit in the years since.

The planetoid is unsurprisingly mysterious at this point, but there are a few clues as to what it is. Scientists believe it's at the "low end" of the dwarf planet scale with a diameter just under 249 miles, and that it interacts with Neptune. The object may have been tossed into the outer Solar System after floating too close to Neptune sometime in the past, and is expected to react to Neptune again due to an intersecting orbit.

There's no guarantee Farfarout will hold the title. Research team member Scott Sheppard argued the planetoid was "just the tip of the iceberg" for distant objects, and that a new wave of very large telescopes with higher-resolution cameras would spot celestial bodies that were previously elusive. The outer Solar System may be relatively crowded, and we're only learning that now thanks to technological breakthroughs.