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New theory casts doubt on Planet Nine

Posted on Tuesday, 5 June, 2018 | Comment icon 28 comments

Could a large number of smaller objects be responsible ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists have come up with an alternative explanation for the peculiar orbits of some distant objects.
Nobody knows exactly where it is, how big it is or if it even exists at all, but when researchers at the California Institute of Technology revealed in 2016 that the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system was a very real possibility, the hunt for this enigmatic new world began in earnest.

Believed to be up to ten times the mass of the Earth and with an orbital period of up to 20,000 years, Planet Nine, if it exists, will be situated somewhere beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Now though, two astrophysicists - Jacob Fleisig and Ann-Marie Madigan of the University of Colorado Boulder - have put forward an argument to suggest that Planet Nine may not actually exist after all.

Perhaps the most important piece of evidence in favor of Planet Nine's existence is the unusual way various objects in the outer solar system move, as if influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet.

According to Fleisig and Madigan however, this peculiar movement could be explained by the collective gravitational influence of a number of smaller objects rather than a single large one.

"There could be thousands of these (smaller) bodies out there waiting to be detected," said Fleisig.

"You see a pileup of the orbits of smaller objects to one side of the Sun. These orbits crash into the bigger body, and what happens is those interactions will change its orbit from an oval shape to a more circular shape."

The dwarf planet Sedna is one planetary body thought to have been influenced in this way and the same processes could have even been responsible for the apocalyptic asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous.

"It's tantalizing," said Fleisig.

Source: Nature.com | Comments (28)

Tags: Planet Nine

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #19 Posted by Merc14 on 6 June, 2018, 19:44
Stands up to me? LMAO.   I had said nothing negative to you or anyone else on this thread and simply asked what you meant by ninth planet devotee and boom, the fight was on.   Yes, that is a troll, a person who has nothing to say on a topic and simply attacks people on said thread.  So answer my question tommy, what is you opinion of what these astronomers are postulating or haven't you got an opinion tommy
Comment icon #20 Posted by Tom the Photon on 6 June, 2018, 20:16
So that's your gripe?  Have you read my posts, or are you illiterate as well as ignorant and irrelevant?   I gave a clear opinion in post #2. Your first post (#5) was really idiotic and dumb. My reply, post #7, explained this to you carefully without recourse to insulting language. Your response, #8, was abusive, sarcastic, derogatory and above all really, really dumb. I replied at #13 and - do you know what? - I still tried to explain things to you in an intelligent and articulate manner.  I've just read it through again and the only name I can see I called you was genius.  Your response at #... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Merc14 on 6 June, 2018, 22:48
Having a tough day tommy getting late in jolly old i'nt  mate?  BTW, something can't go downhill when it starts at the bottom, try and think before posting.  Go to bed tommy,, tomorrow is another day to make an ass of yourself.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Tom the Photon on 6 June, 2018, 23:23
Comment icon #23 Posted by seanjo on 7 June, 2018, 8:36
"Conspiracy"...it's not a conspiracy there is observable evidence that something we haven't seen yet is influencing the orbits of bodies in our solar system. We aren't talking about Nibiru bull**** we are talking actual real science.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Not A Rockstar on 7 June, 2018, 10:50
I don't believe in the Nibiru junk but I do wonder what is causing the effects we observe. Don't care if they find a planet or some other cause, just would be interesting to know what it is. 
Comment icon #25 Posted by Hammerclaw on 7 June, 2018, 16:22
Just the facts, ma'am. A multitude of smaller objects are more intriguing than just one big one.
Comment icon #26 Posted by FateAmeniableToChange on 7 June, 2018, 16:34
I also believe this new theory is incorrect, the so called "flock" of large meteoroids or asteroids or whatever makes up the flock although able to account for gravitational effects on planets due to combined mass would never be stable for any length of time and in turn the planets would tug at the flock, dismantling it rock by rock as their larger gravitational pull pulled the flock apart.
Comment icon #27 Posted by seanjo on 7 June, 2018, 17:33
I disagree, a large Planet is way more interesting than smaller stuff in an area of lots of smaller stuff.
Comment icon #28 Posted by seanjo on 7 June, 2018, 17:39
I have thought about this effect for a while, is gravity cumulative? Do many separate objects in proximity add to the gravity well?   The reason I thought about it is that I wondered if we were surrounded by many other Universes, would they explain dark energy i.e their gravitational pull.

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