We may once again approach a whole group of planets.
Our solar system has only had eight known planets since Pluto was demoted, but evidence pointing to another contender for ninth planet status has raised eyebrows for astronomers for years, suspicious of its existence there, lurking at the edges of our solar system. But we may finally have determined the exact path of the missing cosmic body, according to Recent study shared on prepress server.
Planet Nine can run, but it can’t hide. Unless, of course, it does not exist.
Planet Nine researchers respond to criticism
All evidence for Planet Nine’s existence stems from the gravitational pull it appears to have on other bodies in the outer solar system. If there is a planet, the gravitational anomaly makes sense, and all astronomers need to do a little math on the affected vibrations of other nearby planets, to interpolate the new planet. This is how astronomers John Koch Adams and Urban Le Varier discovered Neptune, when they observed that Uranus exhibits a “pulling” motion from an invisible planet. But as for the ninth planet, no one saw an unusual movement or “drag” in the course of the other planets. The only gravitational evidence available consists of an atypical collection of small, icy bodies in the outer solar system, within the totality of Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). If there are no planets outside the Kuiper belt, then the orbits of the Kuiper belt bodies are automatically arranged within the orbital plane of the solar system. But this is not what happens.
Instead of the standard random motion, astronomers are observing cluster orbits in KBO, and while this may be a coincidence, it’s also highly unlikely. In 2016, The researchers analyzed the statistical distribution of Kuiper belt objects, and announced that the unusual assembly behavior was due to an undiscovered exoplanet. They even calculated its mass to be one-fifth the mass of Earth, and about 10 times Neptune’s distance from the Sun. The ancient study also identified the area of the sky where the planet is likely to be hiding, but Extensive searches have not found Planet Nine, which led some to suspect that it does not exist. The new study looks at the preliminary work of 2016 and takes into account some of the criticisms of the putative ninth body.
The jury is still out on Planet Nine whether it’s real or not
One of the problems with locating a planetary body in the outer solar system is the inherent difficulty in locating anything there. This forces astronomers to look in any suitable location, which means that the Kuiper Belt cluster objects may be the result of biased data. The authors of the recent study Account for this observational bias, and concluded that clusters of bodies still constitute an unusual phenomenon, with only a 0.4% chance of occurring without a nearby object of significant mass, such as a planet. But more importantly, the study’s authors located the mysterious object even more when they repeated their calculations of the likely orbit of Planet Nine, bringing it closer to the Sun than we thought.
If Planet Nine is real, astronomers should discover it very soon. But with many astronomers still more skeptical (some even suspected it existed Primordial black hole), the coming years will likely see it being dismissed as a possible explanation for the KBO agglomeration, or the unveiling of global historical data about a new ninth planet. Time will tell what will be the final judgment on Planet Nine.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article had a vague title about how some scientists dealt with Planet Nine. This has been corrected to reflect that its existence remains unknown.