Though the solar system is said to only contain eight planets, scientists had always proposed that there could be hidden ones that are yet to be discovered. A new study gives credence to the theory and suggests that a ninth planet might actually exist.
In October 2017, NASA suggested that a ninth planet might be located 20 times further from the sun than where the planet Neptune is, which comes to a distance of 600 Astronomical Units (AU). Considering that 1 AU is approximately 93 million miles, 600 AU would make it too far away for proper observation.
In fact, Planet Nine is said to be 160,000 times dimmer than Neptune, which makes it nearly impossible to properly capture on a telescope. As such, the existence of a ninth planet has always remained questionable.
However, a new research report lays down a few pieces of observational evidence that confirm the existence of Planet Nine. For instance, the six known objects in the Kuiper Belt have elliptical orbits that point toward the same direction. These orbits are all tilted 30 degrees downward. Several computer simulations also showed that various objects exist in the solar system that have a similar tilt.
Only the existence of Planet Nine can explain the high-inclination orbits as seen in the observational evidence, the researchers argue. “If you were to remove this explanation and imagine Planet Nine does not exist, then you generate more problems than you solve. All of a sudden, you have five different puzzles, and you must come up with five different theories to explain them,” Fox News quotes Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist from Caltech.
In addition to the ninth planet, we just might have one more entity lurking in the solar system. “Planet Ten” is said to be located in the Kuiper Belt. The conclusion is based on a study of space rocks in the Kuiper Belt that were observed to have a warped orbit. This has led the researchers to believe that there might be a planet causing the attraction in the region that affects the motion of these objects.
“The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass. According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured,” Kat Volk, the lead author of the study, is quoted by Space.
Though it was earlier proposed that the space rocks might, in fact, be affected by Planet Nine, the theory has not proven to be valid since the planet is located too far away to have any influence on the motion and orbit of these objects.
Another theory suggests that the warping of the objects’ orbits might have been the result of a passing star. However, this too has been deemed impossible, since such an event should have taken place within the past 10 million years, which the scientist say is highly unlikely.
But as with Planet Nine, scientists have not been able to capture the elusive mass on their telescopes. As such, it would be very hard for the researchers to actually confirm 100 percent whether these planets exist. For now, the evidence laid down points to the possibility that these planets are real. The only thing the scientific community now needs is an advanced technology that would enable them to pinpoint the location of these masses and capture them in a historic image.