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Space & Astronomy

Mysterious Mars-sized 'Planet Ten' proposed

By T.K. Randall
June 23, 2017 · Comment icon 8 comments



Could there be a Planet Ten as well as a Planet Nine ? Image Credit: NASA
Astronomers have suggested that there may be more than one mystery planet in the outer solar system.
Last year, planetary scientists Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin created a mathematical model indicating that a Neptune-sized object in the outer solar system could be influencing the movements of six smaller Kuiper Belt objects which were found to be behaving rather oddly.

Despite a concerted effort by astronomers around the world to locate this enigmatic gas giant however, the search has so far come up empty.

Now Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra at the University of Arizona have thrown yet another spanner in the works by suggesting that there could also be a tenth planet - a world the size of Mars that is thought to be situated much closer to the Earth than the fabled Planet Nine.
"The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass," said Volk, a postdoctoral fellow at the university's Lunar and Planetary Lab. "According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured."

So just how many undiscovered planets are there floating around in the outer solar system ?

"At the end of the day, the solar system has quite a bit of real estate, so you can stuff a lot of small things in it," said Konstantin Batygin, one of the astronomers behind the Planet Nine research.

"Is it plausible for a Mars-like body to exist at 100 AU or so? Yes."

Source: Gizmodo | Comments (8)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Sundew 6 years ago
Many of these outer planets and planetoids have very eccentric orbits, often well outside the normal plain of our solar system. As an example, Pluto's orbit is quite eccentric sometimes lying outside Neptune's orbit and sometimes inside it. I wonder if there could be objects orbiting the sun that are so far away that they could be orbiting at nearly right angles to the other known planets, or have retrograde orbits, circling the sun in the opposite direction, being captured wanderers not formed with the rest of the planets. At these distances it is a stroke of luck to "bump into" a planet with... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by geraldnewfie 6 years ago
planet X!
Comment icon #3 Posted by Essan 6 years ago
Rupert!
Comment icon #4 Posted by bison 6 years ago
The inclination of the Kuiper Belt objects, assumed to be affected by the proposed planet, is apparently about 8 degrees from the plane of the solar system. The inclination of the unseen planet would presumably be similar. That's a substantial deviation for a planet at least as massive as Mars. Being 60 AU from the Sun would reduce the efficacy of the gravitational effect that tends to keep nearer-in planets very close to the plane of the ecliptic.   
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
I always wonder if Neptune and Pluto have every or will ever collide due to the nature of their orbits.
Comment icon #6 Posted by bison 6 years ago
Apparently not. See the link: http://www.sciencefocus.com/qa/could-neptune-and-pluto-ever-collide-their-orbits-intersect
Comment icon #7 Posted by Orphalesion 6 years ago
Wait what? Planet 10? Last time I checked we were still looking for Planet 9. The Solar System only has eight right now.
Comment icon #8 Posted by bison 6 years ago
They're counting the other supposed-to-exist planet as the ninth. It's thought to be much larger and more distant than the newly inferred one. Of course one or the other, or both, may not exist at all, but it seems a reasonable possibility that both do, given the evidence.   


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