New clues emerge for the ex­is­tence of Planet 9

Tehran Times - - SCIENCE -

Planet 9 can­not hide for­ever, and new re­search has nar­rowed the range of pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions fur­ther! In Jan­uary of 2016, astronomers Mike Brown and Kon­stantin Baty­gin pub­lished the first ev­i­dence that there might be an­other planet in our So­lar Sys­tem. Known as “Planet 9” (“Planet X” to some), this hy­po­thet­i­cal body was be­lieved to or­bit at an ex­treme dis­tance from our Sun, as ev­i­denced by the or­bits of cer­tain ex­treme Kuiper Belt Ob­jects (eKBOs).

Since that time, mul­ti­ple stud­ied have been pro­duced that have at­tempted to place con­straints on Planet 9’s lo­ca­tion. The lat­est study once again comes from Brown and Baty­gin, who con­ducted an an­a­lyt­i­cal as­sess­ment of all the pro­cesses that have in­di­cated the pres­ence of Planet 9 so far. Taken to­gether, these in­di­ca­tions show that the ex­is­tence of this body is not only likely, but also es­sen­tial to the So­lar Sys­tem as we know it.

The study, ti­tled “Dy­nam­i­cal Evo­lu­tion In­duced by Planet Nine“, re­cently ap­peared on­line and has been ac­cepted for pub­li­ca­tion in The As­tro­nom­i­cal Jour­nal. Whereas pre­vi­ous stud­ies have pointed to the be­hav­ior of var­i­ous pop­u­la­tions of KBOs as proof of Planet 9, Brown and Baty­gin sought to pro­vide a co­her­ent the­o­ret­i­cal de­scrip­tion of the dy­nam­i­cal mech­a­nisms re­spon­si­ble for these ef­fects.

In the end, they con­cluded that it would be more dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a So­lar Sys­tem with­out a Planet 9 than with one.

“There are now five dif­fer­ent lines of ob­ser­va­tional ev­i­dence point­ing to the ex­is­tence of Planet Nine. If you were to re­move this ex­pla­na­tion and imag­ine Planet Nine does not ex­ist, then you gen­er­ate more prob­lems than you solve. All of a sud­den, you have five dif­fer­ent puz­zles, and you must come up with five dif­fer­ent the­o­ries to ex­plain them.”

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