Since the exclusion of Pluto from the category of planets in 2006 people still believe that our Solar system is home to 8 planets. However, a few years ago in the scientific community up a buzz about the possibility of the existence of another planetary object, unofficially known as the “Ninth planet” or “Planet X”. Astronomers initially proposed the hypothesis of its existence, has recently published two research papers (in the journal Physics Reports and The Astronomical Journal) which cited the results of analysis of all the discoveries of recent years, in varying degrees, related to the question of the probability of the existence of this hypothetical object.
At the beginning of 2016, two well-known planetary scientist at Caltech’s Konstantin Batygin and Michael brown made a hypothesis of the existence of a huge planetary object whose orbit somewhere beyond Pluto and Neptune. His hypothesis, scientists have reinforced the observations of small celestial bodies in the Kuiper belt. The researchers found that at least 6 objects in it are demonstrating the same unusual behavior relative to the plane of rotation of the other planets in their orbit was rejected by 30 degrees. Further computer simulations showed that for the strange behavior of objects in the Kuiper belt must meet a very large gravity source of unknown nature.
In subsequent research, the astronomers speculated that this mysterious object can be 10 times heavier than Earth, and its orbit away from the Sun on 104 billion kilometers. Scientists estimate that an object with such a huge distance to our sun must make one revolution around it for 15 thousand years.
At the moment the search for “Planet X” but without success – brown, Batygina and their “competitors” only managed to limit the search area of this planet. A number of other scholars have questioned its existence, noting that the observations of the unusual orbits of some objects can be explained by inaccuracy of calculations or some other random factor. Others talked about the fact that instability in the behavior of objects could be due to the influence of open worlds in the Kuiper belt, where is this hypothetical giant planet. According to the findings of one recent study, some peculiarities of behavior of part of the TRANS-Neptunian objects could be explained without the existence of the mysterious planet – a cluster of small objects with General gravity.
Batygin and brown decided to respond to criticism of colleagues, by combining and analyzing all the discoveries of recent years, which are presumably associated with the presence or absence of an unknown planet beyond the orbits of Pluto and Neptune.
As pointed out by the researchers, the analysis of the huge amount of data has shown that the probability of the existence of the “Ninth planet” is now close to 100 percent. However, as noted planetary scientists California Institute of technology, opponents of the hypothesis about the existence of the “Ninth planet” until now, failed to find any really solid argument in favor of its absence.
In addition, in the new work scientists were able to clarify the calculations of its path of movement, which unexpectedly showed that the original estimate of its mass, orbital inclination and distance to the subject has been greatly exaggerated. It turned out that in size it is rather like a miniature replica of Neptune, as originally intended, and the “super-Earth”. The object should be placed at a distance of 400-500 astronomical units from the Sun (1 astronomical unit = the average distance between the Sun and Earth), which is approximately 1.5 times lower than initial estimates. As for her weight, according to new calculations, it should be only 5 times larger than the earth, the researchers note that it is also several times smaller than the original assumptions.
Such changes, as explained by the scientists, due to the fact that in 2016, astronomers did not know about the existence of any object, whose semimajor axis of the orbit would be longer than 250 astronomical units. In recent years it has been open just 14 similar celestial bodies, significantly altered scientists an idea about the structure of the external borders of the Solar system.
Regardless right whether or not the Caltech planetary scientists, hunting for the “Ninth planet” will continue. Batygin and brown recognise that new settlements may be some inaccuracies, but they believe that the planet will sooner or later be officially opened.
“The advantage of the hypothesis of the existence of the “Ninth planet” is that it is amenable to verification. The opportunity to see with my own eyes, of course, can not fail to inspire the continued search. In my opinion, we will be able to find it in the next decade,” says Batygin.
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