NEW EXTREME TRANS-NEPTUNIAN OBJECTS: TOWARD A SUPER-EARTH in the OUTER SOLAR SYSTEM

Scott S. Sheppard, Chadwick Trujillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

We are performing a wide and deep survey for extreme distant solar system objects. Our goal is to understand the high-perihelion objects Sedna and 2012 VP113 and determine if an unknown massive planet exists in the outer solar system. The discovery of new extreme objects from our survey of some 1080 square degrees of sky to over 24th magnitude in the r-band are reported. Two of the new objects, 2014 SR349 and 2013 FT28, are extreme detached trans-Neptunian objects, which have semimajor axes greater than 150 au and perihelia well beyond Neptune (q > 40 au). Both new objects have orbits with arguments of perihelia within the range of the clustering of this angle seen in the other known extreme objects. One of these objects, 2014 SR349, has a longitude of perihelion similar to the other extreme objects, but 2013 FT28 is about 180° away or anti-aligned in its longitude of perihelion. We also discovered the first outer Oort Cloud object with a perihelion beyond Neptune, 2014 FE72. We discuss these and other interesting objects discovered in our ongoing survey. All the high semimajor axis (a > 150 au) and high-perihelion (q > 35 au) bodies follow the previously identified argument of perihelion clustering as first reported and explained as being from an unknown massive planet in 2014 by Trujillo & Sheppard, which some have called Planet X or Planet Nine. With the discovery of 2013 FT28 on the opposite side of the sky, we now report that the argument of perihelion is significantly correlated with the longitude of perihelion and orbit pole angles for extreme objects and find there are two distinct extreme clusterings anti-aligned with each other. This previously unnoticed correlation is further evidence of an unknown massive planet on a distant eccentric inclined orbit, as extreme eccentric objects with perihelia on opposite sides of the sky (180° longitude of perihelion differences) would approach the inclined planet at opposite points in their orbits, thus making the extreme objects prefer to stay away from opposite ecliptic latitudes to avoid the planet (i.e., opposite argument of perihelia or orbit pole angles).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number221
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume152
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Kuiper belt: general
  • Oort Cloud
  • comets: general
  • minor planets, asteroids: general
  • planets and satellites: individual (Sedna, 2012 VP113)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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