Astronomers have discovered the most distant body in the solar system, a pink micro-planet which has been nicknamed "Farout".

The object was announced by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Centre, and has been given the provisional official designation 2018 VG18.

Farout is – as its name suggests – is extremely distant from the Sun.

It is about 120 astronomical units (AU) away – one AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

The discovery was made by the Carnegie Institute of Science's (CIS) Scott Sheppard, alongside the University of Hawaii's David Tholen, and Northern Arizona University's Chad Trujillo.

It was discovered as part of the team's continuing search for extremely distant Solar System objects, including the suspected Planet X, sometimes called Planet 9 following Pluto's downgrading.

Image: The dwarf planet is extremely distant from the Sun. Pic: Roberto Candanosa/CIS

Scott Seppard said the micro-planet was "much more distant and slower moving than any other observed Solar System object, so it will take a few years to fully determine its orbit".

He added: "It was found in a similar location on the sky to the other known extreme Solar System objects, suggesting it might have the same type of orbit that most of them do.

"The orbital similarities shown by many of the known small, distant Solar System bodies was the catalyst for our original assertion that there is a distant, massive planet at several hundred AU shepherding these smaller objects."

Its colour is believed to be caused by a high amount of ice in the dwarf planet's body.

"All that we currently know about 2018 VG18 is its extreme distance from the Sun, its approximate diameter, and its colour," Mr Tholen said.

"Because 2018 VG18 is so distant, it orbits very slowly, likely taking more than 1,000 years to take one trip around the Sun."

First spotted with a telescope in Hawaii, Mr Sheppard's team confirmed the dwarf planet's existence from Chile.

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Mr Sheppard told Associated Press: "I actually uttered 'farout' when I first found this object, because I immediately noticed from its slow movement that it must be far out there.

"It is the slowest moving object I have ever seen and is really out there."

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