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Space & Astronomy

New theory casts doubt on Planet Nine

June 5, 2018 | Comment icon 24 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 (24)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #15 Posted by Merc14 4 years ago
LMAO   Q@uestion tommy, why have you posted NOTHING about the subject itself?  You keep going on about how no one understands the science yet you post nothing about the hypothetical planet itself.  Are you a troill tommy because your behavior sure does resembels one?
Comment icon #16 Posted by paperdyer 4 years ago
I tried to upload this yesterday but our server wouldn't let me.  Theories are great.  Maybe the Pluto probe will show something as it's journey continues.  
Comment icon #17 Posted by Tom the Photon 4 years ago
Is that your definition of a troll - someone who stands up to you?  Someone who fails to prostrate themselves at the feet of the Wonderful Wizard of Merc? You really are pathetic.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Merc14 4 years ago
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 #19 Posted by Tom the Photon 4 years ago
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 #20 Posted by Merc14 4 years ago
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 #21 Posted by Tom the Photon 4 years ago
Yawn.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Not A Rockstar 4 years ago
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 #23 Posted by Hammerclaw 4 years ago
Just the facts, ma'am. A multitude of smaller objects are more intriguing than just one big one.
Comment icon #24 Posted by FateAmeniableToChange 4 years ago
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.


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