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Space & Astronomy

Planet Nine could be a miniature black hole

By T.K. Randall
September 28, 2019 · Comment icon 7 comments

Is there a tiny black hole lurking beyond the orbit of Neptune ? Image Credit: NASA / Alain Riazuelo
The undiscovered theoretical planet in the outer reaches of our solar system may actually be a black hole.
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.

But what if this enigmatic body wasn't actually a planet at all ?

In a new paper, two scientists have put forward the theory that 'Planet Nine' could in fact be a miniature black hole - one that would be no larger than a bowling ball.
Known as 'primordial black holes', these theoretical objects could have formed from the chaos of the universe's earliest days rather than from the collapse of a massive star - hence their small size.

If Planet Nine really was a tiny black hole, it would explain why astronomers have been having such a difficult time locating it - not only would it be imperceptibly small, but it would also be invisible.

"By simply focusing on the concept of a planet, you restrict the experimental search that you're undertaking," study co-author James Unwin told Gizmodo.

"Once you start thinking about more exotic objects, like primordial black holes, you think in different ways. We advocate that rather than just looking for it in visible light, maybe look for it in gamma rays. Or cosmic rays."

Source: Gizmodo | Comments (7)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by psyche101 5 years ago
Wouldn't there be a notable band empty of natural bodies in the Oort cloud? Or would it be to far away for us to make something like the out?  Like the separations in Saturn's rings. 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 5 years ago
I mean, if it were a 10 earth mass black hole, it would have the same effect of a 10 earth mass planet, i.e., some of the effects that we've seen. The authors don't really suspect it's a primordial blackhole, but rather are advocating for astronomers to be more creative in their searching. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
The hypothetical planet 9 has a (hypothetical) orbit which takes the planet as far out as 800 AU from the sun. The inner edge of the Oort cloud is 2000 AU from the sun, so planet 9 will not be sweeping areas of the Oort Cloud clear. Planet 9 is, however, within the Kuiper Belt and should clear areas within this belt. The problem is that we simply have not mapped the Kuiper belt well enough to see such cleared regions yet. There are, however, objects within the Kuiper Belt which have unusual orbits. These objects have orbits consistent with them having been cleared from their original orbit by ... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by psyche101 5 years ago
Thanks a million Imaginarynumber1 and Waspie_Dwarf Well explained. I appreciate your time.  Cheers. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Jon the frog 5 years ago
Between Greta speaking and the news of a black hole in our solar system, i will go drown myself in beer like we don't have a tomorrow.     
Comment icon #6 Posted by imarobot 5 years ago
Maybe it's not a black hole, just a dark hole, i.e., a big chunk of dark matter.
Comment icon #7 Posted by josellama2000 5 years ago
It refers to a theoretical/primordial black hole which are highly dense but not massive as newer ones. It mass could be as smaller as the mass of a mountain, therefore its gravity is low.

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