At over 80 Astronomical Units (AU), the solar system from the sun to Pluto covers much distance. While the entire universe covers approximately 46.6 billion light years and expanding, our solar system is quite vast as well leaving many scientists and astronomers to discover what lies within it. As of 2018, NASA had confirmed that the most distant object in the solar system was “Farout”-a celestial object that is about 130 times further from the Sun than Earth is. However, in 2021, a new discovery was made.
At 132 AU from the sun, a new planetoid was discovered by NASA and Inverse, which has been given the rather innovative nickname “Farfarout”. According to NASA reporter Alyse Stanley, Farfarout “is roughly four times away from the sun than Pluto. At this distance, the planetoid completes a single orbit around the sun only once in a millenium”. In approximate distance, Farfarout is about 12.3 billion miles from the sun, while the Earth is about 93 million miles from the Sun.
To determine Farfarout’s orbits, scientists from The Carnegie Institution for Science and Northern Arizona University had used the Gemini North telescope and the Magellan Telescope to help conduct approximate calculations and, thus, provide an idea of its distance. The problem is that, according to astronomer David Tholen, “Because of such a long orbital period, it moves very slowly across the sky, requiring several years of observations to precisely determine its trajectory”.
Other aspects of Farfarout that scientists wish to determine is its dwarf planet scale, especially as it is so distant from the sun. Its exact orbit is also unknown as it is believed to have an elongated orbit, possibly coming close to Neptune’s gravity. If that is the case, then further research can be conducted on Neptune as well as Farfarout.
Astronomers are unsure how long Farfarout will hold its title for most distant object in our solar system. Still, scientists and observers of the object such as Scott Shepard agree that this discovery “shows our increasing ability to map the outer solar system and observe farther and farther towards the fringes of our solar system. Only with the advancements in the last few years of large digital cameras on very large telescopes has it been possible to efficiently discover very distant objects such as Farfarout”. If that is the case, perhaps a new object called FarfarFARout will be discovered. Only time will tell.