The planet could be a small ice world closer than previously thought.
For years scientists have been putting forward new theories about the mysterious Planet 9 on. It has not yet been observed, but the orbits of other objects in this region indicate the existence of a massive object.
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The latest theory comes from the two researchers Patrick Sofia Lykawka (Kindai University) and Takashi Ito (National Astrological Observatory of Japan). They explain how an Earth-like planet could be hiding in our solar system.
Ice world at the edge of the solar system
On an inclined orbit there could be a dark ice world. She shouldn’t go any further than 500 astronomical units (75 billion kilometers) away from the sun. For comparison: Neptune it’s about 30 AE away from the sun.
Indications of the existence of such a planet are given by the so-called Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), which is outside Neptune’s orbit. While observing these objects, researchers previously discovered that TNOs gather together in clusters.
Theory of the Planet 9
In these groups they move on inclined orbits. This may mean they are being affected by a larger object. 2016 was therefore first dated Planet 9 spoken. At that time it was assumed that the planet could 6,3-Mal be more massive than Earth and be in an orbit at least 460 AE is away from the sun.
But already 2008 Lykawa and Tadashi Mukai (Kobe University) suspected that a planet could be hiding in the Kuiper Belt at the outer edge of the solar system. The researchers have now expanded this theory.
This is how the planet affects objects in the Kuiper belt
You explain which ones 3 properties of the distant Kuiper Belt could be explained by the existence of such a planet: “A prominent population of TNOs with orbits outside the gravitational influence of Neptune, a significant population of objects with high inclination and the existence of some extreme objects with peculiar orbits“,you writein their study. It was published in the specialist magazineThe Astronomical Journal.
More precisely, so that the angle of inclination of more than 45 Grad some TNOs are explained. Objects like the dwarf planet the core with a very elongated orbit could also explain it.
No bigger than three times the earth
The planet should be between 1.5 and 3 earth masses have and 250 bis 500 AE lie away from the sun. The angle of inclination should be 30 degrees. Its gravity would cause TNOs to be clustered together 150 AE removed, according to the researchers.
These TNOs could help find the planet. Studying their behavior could provide new clues to a potential planet. If one could prove the existence, that would also provide new insights into the planet formation and that outer solar system bring.