Science

Is the Mysterious Planet Nine Just a Swarm of Asteroids?

Is the Mysterious Planet Nine Just a Swarm of Asteroids?”

The rest of the objects in the solar system, however, are pulled into elliptical orbits by the gravity of giant planets like Jupiter and Neptune. "We can solve a lot of these problems by just taking into account that question", she explained. For some years now, researchers have speculated that something is pulling these objects away from the plane where the system's major planets are orbiting, giving them a downward inclination of 30 degrees.

The hypothetical Planet Nine, according to calculations, would be a gas giant with about 10 times the mass and four times the size of Earth, with an enormous orbit that would take between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete.

Dr Madigan added: "The picture we draw of the outer solar system in textbooks may have to change".

After calculating the orbits of the "detached objects" in the Kuiper Belt, Sedna included, the CU Boulder team discovered that these small bumps and jostles in outer space make for a more plausible explanation for the orbital oddity that the existence of Planet Nine. "There's a lot more stuff out there than we once thought, which is really cool".

The hypothesis of the existence of a ninth planet was first put forward in 2012, when Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo, two scientists from the Carnegie Institution of Science and Northern Arizona University, discovered several celestial bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune (the so-called trans-Neptunian objects, or Tno), composed mainly of rocks, ice and solid methane.

The natural process is that massive minor planets are naturally detached by the interaction of different gravities from the objects.

Repeated interaction cycles among large and small TNOs may be responsible for pushing comets into the inner solar system on regular timescales.

"There could be thousands of these (smaller) bodies out there waiting to be detected", said Jacob Fleisig, of the University of Colorado at Boulder who presented this new research earlier this week at the American Astronomical Society meeting.

According to the researchers' simulations, the TNOs move like hands on a clock, with the most massive objects moving slowly, like the hour hand, and the smaller ones ticking along quickly, like the minute hand.

"You see a pileup of the orbits of smaller objects to one side of the sun", Fleisig said. "The smaller ones move faster than the larger ones; when the bodies crash, the orbits change in shape and orientation due to these small-scale interactions ". But because the largest objects are hurled into the most eccentric orbits, they become more hard to find, the researchers said. And the fact that the orbits all tilt the same way - neatly explained by Planet Nine - can not be explained by the collective gravity hypothesis.

'While we're not able to say that this pattern killed the dinosaurs.

Well, as it turns out, the new theory that axes Planet Nine might also be tied to the dinosaur extinction.

It's not impossible one of these caused the collision which wiped out the dinosaurs, the researchers said.



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