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Astrophysicists propose a new place where Planet Nine could be hiding

The ninth planet in the artist's imagination.

Five years ago, a couple of astronomers announced they found evidence for the existence of another planet in our solar system, the so-called “Planet X”. Although it is now commonly referred to as Planet Nine, a cosmic object – much larger than Earth and hiding somewhere in the outer reaches of the solar system – is still very theoretical, although the same pair have now fine-tuned the likely orbit of such a planet. …

The new study is by Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin of the California Institute of Technology. Brown is “the guy who killed Pluto and is proud of it,” says Gizmodo. described it in 2016Currently posted On the arXiv preprint server and accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal, the study claims that if Planet Nine exists, it will be closer and brighter than previously thought.

Scientists have suspected the existence of an unknown planet based on the close clusters of objects in the Kuiper belt, a wide swath of icy objects beyond the orbit of Neptune. If there were an unobservable planet hidden behind the belt, it would be the most distant orbit of all the planets around the Sun, taking thousands of years to complete one revolution (compared to the 164-year orbit of Neptune, the longest known planet).

Just as Neptune was discovered in the 1840s, when astronomers realized that Uranus was being carried away by some kind of invisible object, several Kuiper belt objects seem to be grouped in the same orientation in space – something that could be a random event, but some astronomers believe it to be. because of an undiscovered planet.

Other ideas were also expressed; some offered that Planet Nine is actually a ring of debris large enough to exert similar gravitational effects on the massive planet, while others suspect The ninth planet is the primordial black hole, a putative relic of the early universe, is too small to be detectable by modern methods. Still others say that such an object does not exist.

Michelle Bannister, a planetary astronomer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, told Gizmodo in 2017 Nov. that “the Planet 9 idea is a fun idea, exciting, but requires a little oxygen at the moment” and “We have this interesting problem … and a very brilliant solution at the moment is called Planet 9.”

The new study was more selective in the selection of Kuiper belt objects included to determine the mass, orbit, and gravitational influence of Planet Nine. Since some objects in the belt have orbits that are subject to Neptune’s gravity, including them will distort the data. The last group of objects included – 11 in total – was selected based on the researchers’ rigorous criteria. According to their analysis, Planet Nine will be just over six times the mass of the Earth and will revolve around the Sun every 7400 years. as reported by National Geographic

A rock in space, a Kuiper belt object, 4 billion miles from the Sun.

The researchers also calculated the likelihood that the clustering of orbits could be due to some other effect besides the massive object. They determined that the probability that an object is violating the orbits of the Kuiper belt is 99.6%. While this is a small chance, it is actually a large increase in the likelihood of randomness (1 in 250) compared to the 1 in 10,000 odds the couple gave in 2016, as pointed out by NatGeo.

Then Brown and Batygin believed that the planet is more massive (10 times the mass of the Earth) and has a much longer orbit (more 10,000 years) than what is described in the new article. Their new estimate is that Planet Nine should be closer to the Sun – in fact, close enough to be observed in the near future. Vera Rubin Observatorywhich is expected to have first light by 2023… Fingers crossed.

More: When the hell are we going to find the ninth planet?

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