October 6, 2022

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Planet X - the ninth planet of the solar system, which we are still waiting to be discovered

Planet X – the ninth planet of the solar system, which we are still waiting to be discovered

As of August 24, 2006, we have distinguished nine planets in the solar system, from Mercury to Pluto. However, on that day, the latter dropped out of the list and joined the group of dwarf planets, for example. Ceres and Eris. However, this does not mean that there will always be only eight planets in our system. For years there was talk of a father. Virtual Planet XWhich attracts the imagination of many scientists. It may be one of the most intriguing objects relatively close to Earth that we have yet to discover. However, in order to explain what Planet X is or what it could be, you first need to find out the history of the discovery of the other planets of the solar system – Uranus and Neptune.

Photo: NASA

Uranus and Neptune

Uranus was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel, who initially believed that its discovery was another comet. Only after more extensive analyzes and the discovery of the circular orbit was it determined that it could be a new planet. Almost 40 years later, the French astronomer Alexis Bouvard released astronomical tables in which accounts were made about the position of Uranus. The problem was that his observations of the location of the planet did not match the calculations themselves. Bouvard concluded that something must affect the motion of a planet, and that something must be another planet. Thus, Neptune was discovered in 1846.

Many scientists, led by Jack Babnett, believed that Neptune’s motion was also turbulent. According to him, at a distance of 47 to 48 units from the Sun, there should be an object 11.6 times the mass of the Earth, which he called Hyperion. We owe the term “Planet X” to Percival Lowell, who devoted his life to researching this thing. In 1930, it seemed to have been found – that’s when Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. However, this was also not something intended to interfere with Neptune’s motion. Moreover, thanks to the research conducted with the Voyager 2 probe, we discovered that such an object could not exist at all. The perturbations that were supposed to indicate the hypothetical object’s influence on Neptune disappeared when corrections were made for the mass of the blue planet.

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One would think that the story of Planet X ends here. Nothing could be more wrong. When he began searching for Pluto, he discovered that it belongs to a group of objects called the outer asteroid belt kuiper belt. Scientists began to look at the objects out there, discovering other interesting objects. Among them was the aforementioned Eris, but also Our master and some other specifically named asteroids such as 2012 cum113 or 2004 VN112. Astronomers note that at a distance of about 50 astronomical units from the Sun, the number of Kuiper belt objects drops to almost zero. This is called Kuiper CliffIts appearance cannot be accidental. According to the research, there should be a planet behind the belt, the gravity of which will create such a gap. After all, it’s exactly the same with Jupiter and Kirkwood County.

Kuiper's belt and Sedna's belt

Photo: Caltech/NASA

Kuiper’s belt and Sedna’s belt

Returning, however, to the previously mentioned Sedna, In 2016, Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown looked at this and many other thingsAt least their traffic characteristics were specific. The orbits of the six trans-Neptune objects were perpendicular to the path of the Sun, and the objects themselves tended to follow the orbits that clustered together.. It should be noted that Sedna’s orbit is so eccentric that it spends only a small portion of its orbital period near the Sun where it can be easily observed, which in turn means that if it was not discovered by complete chance, it must have been affected by another, more massive object. Using mathematical modeling and computer simulation, he found that Planet X will be the solution to these problems.

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The California Institute of Technology scientists mentioned above believe Planet Nine may have a mass of approximately 10 times the size of the Earth And be close to the size of Uranus or Neptune. Planet X is supposed to be very far from us. According to calculations, it may be at least 20 times further from the Sun than Neptune, which orbits, after all, at a distance of 30 AU (about 4.5 billion km). It is said that due to the elliptical orbit in a certain place, Planet X could theoretically approach the Sun at a distance of up to 200 international units. As expected The object orbits our star of 10 thousand. Up to 20 thousand years. No wonder there can be so many problems with its potential discovery.

It is worth noting that, despite everything, we are still talking only about a hypothesis. Because there are no observations at this time that the ninth planet actually exists. Moreover, many scientists doubt the accuracy of the above study. They realized that the characteristic concentration of objects in the Kuiper belt is an unusual phenomenon and is only 0.4 percent. The possibility of it happening without a nearby object that has a large mass, but nevertheless indicates many unknowns.

Photo: Vadim Sadovsky/Shutterstock

The biggest problem is that the calculations themselves, more specifically the standard deviation results. In the studies by Batygin and Brown, it was 3.8, while the generally accepted maximum is the level of three standard deviations. The difference does not seem significant, but as can be seen from the example of Neptune, where the mass was overestimated by only 0.5%, it can still have a significant impact on the calculations.

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Among the hypotheses that should be an alternative to Planet X, we can find those related to the possible interaction of the Kuiper belt bodies on each other. In this case, a far more massive body will not be needed. However, it is a less logical theory than the theories of Planet Nine. Some astronomers suspect that there may be an undetected black hole far away rather than a planet. Perhaps it was even stranger. As Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, points out, now is the time for more research and discovery.

Several important analyzes have already been performed since the hypothesis was announced. Thanks to the use of the WISE infrared telescope for space exploration, the presence of objects with a mass of Saturn up to 10,000 meters has been excluded. au from Earth and objects with a mass of Jupiter up to 26 thousand. au from our planet. WISE continues to survey the passage outside the Solar System, and is now looking for smaller objects. NASA itself encourages you to look for possible clues about Planet X in the data already collected. By working together, there is a chance that we may finally discover Planet Nine or confirm that it definitely does not exist.