Right on cue, science has got yet one more “dwarf planet,” expanding—the Guardian lets itself get carried away into “redefining“—the known Solar System. It sounds like a pretty cruddy planet, according to the first guesswork: “probably a ball of ice,” the Washington Post reports, one-sixth the width of poor, downgraded Pluto, basically Saint-Exupéry territory. Till someone works through the process to come up with a semi-dignified mythological name for it, it’s known as “2015 TG387,” or, to its friends, “the Goblin.”
Not even the discoverers seem able to hype it. They suppose it to be one of “thousands of objects the same size,” according to the Post, and their main claims about its importance are instrumental: Its orbit may be evidence of the influence of the gravity of some massive, actually noteworthy, planet-sized planet far out there. It is, the discoverers report, one of the “breadcrumbs leading us” to the planet they want to find.
Apparently, 2015 TG387 doesn’t even rate its own artwork. The illustration atop the news stories—an artists’ conception of a far-off world in pretty yellow and pink and cream and green—turns out not to be an optimistic take on the little ice-wad, but a vision of that possible planet-planet that pushes the little ice-wad around, “Planet X,” or, more insultingly to Pluto, “Planet Nine.”
It’s nice, in some ways, to see an artist’s conception of any unseen planet getting creative or ambitious. Poor Pluto spent decades getting artistically conceptualized as a pockmarked dull gray rock, and then when they finally got a camera on it, it was decorated with a giant heart.
Nobody’s sending a camera out to 2015 TG387, 65 times as far from the sun as Earth is. If they did, here’s what it (and fancy, unverified Planet Nine-X) would look like: dark.
Still, in its moment of fame, it deserves more than it got. So Hmm Daily made an artist’s conception especially for it. Behold the majesty of the universe.