There could be a hidden planet on the distant borders of our solar system. And astronomers have released new details about what that looks like, if it really exists.
According to a new article published online February 10 in the journal Physics Reports, Planet 9 probably represents five to ten times the mass of the Earth. And he is probably traveling in an elongated orbit that culminates at 400 times the distance from the Earth to the sun. This orbit is probably also at 15 or 25 degrees from the main orbital plain of our solar system where most of the planets are in orbit.
The existence of Planet Nine, as previously reported the sister site of Live Science, Space.com, is an idea that has become popular among astronomers since it was seriously proposed for the first time in 2014 Researchers suspect the existence of the planet because of the reasons for objects in the Kuiper belt, a ring of debris in the outer solar system. These objects tend to agglutinate to suggest that gravity from something big is pulling it.
And the proof has only become stronger. In a separate article, published Jan. 22 in The Astronomical Journal, some of the same authors of the physics report paper calculated the probability that Planet Nine does not exist at 1 in 500. [Amazing Astronomy: Victorian-Era Illustrations of the Heavens]
To strongly suspect that the dark planet exists is not the same as to know that it is real. The good news is that this new study suggests that Planet Nine is much closer than expected. But astronomers still have plenty of space to search for it.
The authors of the document Physics Reports however evoked the possibility that there is no planet at all. They added that, no matter how strong the current evidence, this chance should be "taken seriously".
The most likely alternative explanation is that the image of the Kuiper belt by humanity is incomplete and that the objects do not seem to cluster together because of certain biases in efforts to detect them. According to the authors, it is also possible that the clustering results from the "own gravity" of the Kuiper Belt acting on its own objects and does not come from a tug hidden from a planet.
Nevertheless, astronomers have become more convinced by the evidence provided by Planet Nine in recent years. And now, they are making significant progress in locating it in space.
Originally published on Science live.