For years, theories of a ninth planet sitting beyond the orbit of Pluto have made the rounds. Astronomers around the world have searched for this planet with little or no success. It was only recently that a group of researchers discovered a piece of evidence indicating that the ghostly world might be hiding in the more remote areas of our sun-soaked neighborhood.
As a Quanta magazine report shows, the evidence is a space rock with a strange orbital nature.
Almost all space objects are on the same plane of the solar system and can be seen from different telescopes and observatories. However, the newly discovered object, named 2015 BP519, was discovered in a region above the aircraft, which the researchers did not expect in the data for the Dark Energy Survey to investigate the dynamics of the expansion of the universe.
According to the researchers, the object reached the area due to its elliptical orbit around the sun. The orbit of the 2015 BP519 is 54 percent in terms of solar system level. Although not much detail is available about the object or its voyage, the group modeling its motion postulated that the radius of its orbit could be anywhere between 35-862 times the radius of Earth's orbit around the sun.
led by the University of Michigan graduate student Juliette Becker, watched the object, tracked its movement, and ran simulations to understand its originating history. Nothing, however, could explain how it got its strange orbit. They needed a source that could have influenced their journey in the long run, and that's where the ninth planet theory comes into play.
According to the group, the planet Nine was suspected to be ten times the size of Earth's mass and 20 times farther from the Sun than Neptune, explaining the strange orbit of this object. Their simulations revealed a complete sense of the ninth planet's image, suggesting that the ghostly world's strong pull might have pulled the object away from the solar system's plane.
The theory supports the Planet Nine Theory, but can not be considered as such a clear proof that another planet is hiding in our stellar neighborhood.
"There is no evidence that Planet Nine exists," said co-author of the study, David Gerdes, Quanta Magazine. "But I would say that the presence of such an object in our solar system supports the case for Planet Nine."
It is also worth noting that astronomers are dubious because of the new theory, mainly because the history of our solar system and the First Planet were just a mystery. As the report noted, there are many possibilities for this case, such as the thrust of dwarf planets or stars under which the sun was born.
The article's arXiv preprint, titled "Discovery and Dynamic Analysis of an Extreme Trans-Neptune High Orbital Object", is available online.