Nasa thinks there may be a strange ‘Planet 9’ lurking in the Solar System – here’s why

A FABLED “Planet 9” may be lurking in the outermost reaches of our Solar System – and Nasa is on a mission to hunt it down.

The distant world is thought to have a mass ten times that of Earth and orbits within the reach of our telescopes.

Scientists believe a fabled'Planet 9' may be lurking at the edge of the Solar System


Scientists believe a fabled ‘Planet 9’ may be lurking at the edge of the Solar SystemCredit: Getty

This object is proposed to explain the unusual orbits of objects at the edge of our star system.

However, it has never been directly observed and remains the subject of controversy among astronomers, many of whom believe it does not exist.

What is Planet Nine?

Planet Nine, also known as “Planet X”, is a hypothetical world that some astronomers believe is orbiting the sun in a 10,000-year orbit.

Believed to be three times the size of Earth, it was first proposed to explain the paths of distant ice and space rocks.

Objects beyond Neptune have strange orbits, suggesting that a large planet is influencing their motion with its gravitational pull.

A search is underway to find the distant world with a telescope that can detect it at any moment.

Several research papers in recent years provide what could be considered strong evidence for the existence of the planet.

However, no one has had incontrovertible evidence in the form of direct observations.

As a result, many scientists suspect that there is a ninth planet out there – although Nasa says there is a “convincing case” for its existence.

What did Nasa say about Planet Nine?

Nasa opens up the possibility that Planet Nine exists, and that there is a Page dedicated to the world of legends on its website.

There, the agency described a “hypothetical Planet X,” suggesting that it could have a mass 10 times that of Earth.

It adds that the object could have orbits so long that a year would last between 10,000 and 20,000 Earth years.

However, Nasa is careful to stress that the planet is just a hypothesis at this point and that more evidence is needed to confirm its existence.

“The possibility of a new planet is certainly exciting for me as a planetary scientist and for all,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. we.

“However, this is not the discovery or discovery of a new planet. It is too early to say with certainty that there is a so-called Planet X.

“What we’re seeing is an initial prediction based on modeling from limited observations. It’s the beginning of a process that could lead to an interesting outcome.”

Doubts about the existence of the planet

Planet Nine has never been observed and was proposed in 2016 by scientists at CalTech to explain the oscillating orbits of objects in the Kuiper Belt, a region beyond Neptune filled with planets. dwarfs and icy debris.

Scientists think the gravitational pull of an undiscovered ninth planet in the Solar System could pull cosmic bodies into unusual orbits.

However, not everyone is convinced with some studies that orbits are the result of other celestial forces.

A recent study led by astronomers at the University of Cambridge has suggested that the motions of the septum have a much simpler explanation.

The team argues that the orbits are instead being warped by a giant disk of icy objects in the Kuiper Belt.

This disk is ten times heavier than Earth and is made up of debris left over from the formation of the Solar System that has long since been frozen.

Computer simulations carried out by the team showed that such a disk explains the orbits of Kuiper belt objects, also known as Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs).

Other papers suggest that the oscillating orbit could be caused by a small black hole or a small super-concentrated dark matter sphere.

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