The Lat­est In­tel­li­gence

Astronomers in the US have in­ferred the ex­is­tence of an un­known ‘plan­e­tary mass ob­ject’ af­fect­ing the move­ments of space rocks in a dis­tant as­ter­oid belt

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Contents -

Jupiter’s great red spot cap­tured in un­prece­dented de­tail, Is there a tenth planet? Can elec­tric cars save our citites? Do video games change the brain?

It seems the So­lar Sys­tem may be a lit­tle more crowded than we thought: a planet around the size of Mars could be hid­den among its outer fringes.

A team from the Univer­sity of Ari­zona has dis­cov­ered a mys­te­ri­ous mass, dubbed Planet Ten, that ap­pears to be tug­ging at the or­bits of a pop­u­la­tion of space rocks known as the Kuiper Belt in the icy out­skirts of the So­lar Sys­tem.

The Kuiper Belt lies be­yond the or­bit of Nep­tune and ex­tends to a few hun­dred As­tro­nom­i­cal Units (AU) with one AU rep­re­sent­ing the dis­tance be­tween Earth and the Sun.

The Earth and the other ma­jor plan­ets all or­bit the Sun in roughly the same plane. How­ever, Kuiper Belt Ob­jects (KBOs) are far enough away from the grav­i­ta­tional at­trac­tion of the gas gi­ants to be tilted away from this plane, and are af­fected by in­ter­ac­tions with one another.

This an­gle, known as the in­cli­na­tion, can be cal­cu­lated. If the ob­served an­gle dif­fers from the

Artist’s im­pres­sion

of Planet Ten

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