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Where could Planet Nine be?

Where could Planet Nine be?

There have been eight planets in the solar system since 2006, when Pluto was stripped of its planet status, which remains highly controversial and, according to many experts, not really a logical decision. However, the fact remains to be accepted, which is that there are officially eight planets, and thus the supposed celestial body previously referred to as Planet X (Planet X) is currently the ninth – if it exists, of course. Many astronomers are working to search for it, A American Scientific These aspirations were presented.

The question arises: Can a planet orbiting at a great distance from the sun exist at all? A few years ago, exoplanets that orbit very far from their star began to be discovered, and based on this, it seems possible that we have such a distant celestial body, which could even reach the size of Neptune.

Sedna is also just a few pixels in the Hubble Space Telescope image.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The first major body in the outer regions of our solar system was Sedna, which was discovered in 2003. This dwarf planet has a mass of about 2000 kilograms. Its diameter is 1000 km. Sedna has an extremely long orbit and is thought to have formed close to the Sun, but was pushed away by gravitational effects.

After finding another celestial body with a similar orbit in 2012, Chad Trujillo and Scott Sheppard (a well-known moon hunter) concluded that there could be a celestial body hiding in the outer solar system that pulled these dwarf planets into their current orbit via their orbit. gravity. Since then, a number of additional extra-Neptunian objects (TNOs) have been discovered, whose orbits show, if not identical, then unusual similarity. Based on this, two astronomers at the California Institute of Technology, Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, came up with this They've discovered itThis is evidence of the presence of a huge, distant celestial body in the outer region of our solar system.

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Extra-Neptunian objects (TNOs) and the orbit of Planet Nine's putative (in dark blue). The standard is 1000 astronomical units, or 1000 distances between the Earth and the Sun.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have done it ever since Another indirect They also found evidence, but this did not make Planet Nine. So far, nothing has been revealed that could be used to identify the supposed celestial body.

However, experts who trust Planet Nine are not giving up their search. There are many sky survey programs around the world in which various “transition” objects are investigated, such as bright distant stars, as well as previously unknown asteroids or moons. Recently, Batygin and two fellow researchers prepared a new study on these data.

Counting back from TNO's known orbital data, they deduced where and how Planet Nine might orbit. They then combed data from various sky surveys to see if they could find any clues, but so far researchers have nothing confirmed, even after examining the movements of some 244 million celestial objects. The analyzes so far have been good enough to reveal that 78% of Planet Nine's potential cache does not exist.

A group of TNOs with extreme orbits, with the orbit of Planet Nine assumed (dashed line), based on calculations different from the previous figure.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Of course, even the remaining 22 percent is very significant, but it represents a part of the sky where the position of stars is very dense (in the plane of the Milky Way), so it would be very difficult to detect anything here. So, if the supposedly desirable ninth planet is hidden in this area, you've found a good hiding place. Starting in 2025, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory will be able to support these investigations.

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The existence of TNO objects with special orbits and known properties can be easily explained by the existence of a ninth planet, but without it the matter is not impossible, but rather more complicated. Many specialists believe that Planet Nine is not necessary for explanation. There are, for example, those who believe that the necessary mass is represented by several small objects, which is a type of “Kuiper Belt II.” Again, others believe that just because a handful of TNOs have special trajectories does not necessarily mean they form a specific group, we know of very few TNOs and we noticed these extremes first, so “duplicating” them is misleading.

So, we don't know if there is a Planet Nine at all, but if there is, we will find it sooner or later. However, until you have direct evidence, indirect evidence must be treated as probabilistic.

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