Space & Astronomy
Can a medieval tapestry help find Planet Nine?
By T.K. Randall
May 4, 2018 · 26 comments
Mankind has long been watching the skies. Image Credit: PD - Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch
Scientists have been looking to the past to help them determine the whereabouts of the elusive ninth planet.
Believed to be up to ten times the mass of the Earth and with an orbital period of up to 20,000 years, this enigmatic world has been the subject of intense debate ever since researchers at the California Institute of Technology first revealed that its existence might actually be a very real possibility.
This latest study, which is being conducted by medievalist Marilina Cesario and astronomer Pedro Lacerda at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, aims to use medieval tapestries and documents to help learn more about the objects visible in the sky hundreds of years ago.
"We have a wealth of historical records of comets in Old English, Old Irish, Latin and Russian which have been overlooked for a long time," said Cesario.
"Early medieval people were fascinated by the heavens, as much as we are today."
The information obtained from the tapestries can help to predict where Planet Nine might be.
"We can take the orbits of comets currently known and use a computer to calculate the times when those comets would be visible in the skies during the Middle Ages," said Lacerdo.
"The precise times depend on whether our computer simulations include Planet Nine. So, in simple terms, we can use the medieval comet sightings to check which computer simulations work best: the ones that include Planet Nine or the ones that do not."
Source: Live Science
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