Thursday , July 29 2021

The Mysterious Planet Nine hiding beyond Neptune may not be a planet


Concept of the Artist for Planet Nine.

Caltech / R. Hurt (IPAC)

Outside of Neptune's past something strange happens with the orbits of a bunch of cosmic rocks that roam around the sun. Something, scientists say, can only be described by the presence of a giant planet – the so-called "Planet nine".

For years astronomers have been confused and now there is another candidate for space volatility, which is not a planet at all.

The existence of Planet Nine is largely derived from the unusual orbits of trans-Neptune objects (TNOs) that exist in the gap between Neptune and the rest of the cosmos. Some TNTs share unusual, highly elliptical orbits and are grouped in one direction. It is assumed that the planet is up to four times wider than the Earth that rotates lonely at the edges of the dark space, influencing the TNOs.

The new study, published on January 21, which will be published in the Astronomical Journal, outlined an alternative explanation for this strange phenomenon and suggests that grouped orbits may not be the result of Planet Nine. A team from the University of Cambridge and the American University of Beirut believe that the "small ice bodies" disk with a "combined mass as big as ten times the Earth's mass" is responsible for the mysterious orbits.

"The Planet Nine Hypothesis is fascinating, but if there is a hypothesis about the ninth planet, so far she has avoided discovery," says Anthranic Sephilian, a co-author of the new study. "We wanted to see if there could be another, less dramatic and perhaps more natural cause of the unusual orbits we see in some TNOs."

Astronomers were fascinated by the idea that a vast planet could lie outside of Neptune, just on the edge of our space. The first hypothesis was proposed in 2014 because of its gravitational attraction to distant TNOs, and as more and more remote sites were discovered, the evidence that their orbits were caused by the overwhelming Earth seems to accumulate. Even the deviations observed in the NASA Cassini spacecraft may have hinted at its existence.

But calculating, modeling and simulating interactions between TNOs and a giant ice disk, Sefilian and Jihad Touma, a professor at the American University of Beirut, suggest if an ice-disk that exists behind Neptune is large enough, it will easily account for the eccentric orbits of the reported TNOs due to the combined gravitational effects.

In both cases – the planet or the disk – the sad truth is that we can not even see our place in the solar system. But this means that the Planet-ninth is not necessarily on the ground because Sephilian and Thomas do not exclude that both the giant disk and super-Earth exist together.

"It is possible that both things are true – there may be a massive disk and a ninth planet," Cephilian said.

And this is not the first time that the alternative theory is open. In June 2018, a group of researchers suggested that the cause of these strange orbits might even be a bunch of asteroids hanging in the far end of space throwing comets at us,

So one of the biggest mysteries of the solar system continues …

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