Ten times larger than Earth: the main proof of the existence of an unknown planet in the solar system
The strange orbits of dwarf planets beyond Neptune are the strongest evidence yet that there is a so-called Planet X deep in our solar system that no one has ever seen. Judging by its gravitational pull, it must be a giant planet.
Sarah Webb, a researcher at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), told The Conversation in an article. The main problem with finding this mysterious planet is its location.
As Webb explains, there are millions of objects moving in our solar system - from planets to moons, comets and asteroids.
By 1846, astronomers had found all eight major planets in our system, but the search did not stop. Over the past 100 years, other celestial bodies have been discovered, including Pluto, which was originally considered a planet but was later downgraded to a dwarf planet.
It was the discovery of these distant dwarfs that suggested to scientists that something unknown to mankind could be hiding on the outskirts of the solar system and that it must be gigantic.
The solar system exists in a balance provided by the gravitational attraction between the planets, and if Planet X does not exist, then we probably do not know anything about gravity.
"When we look at very distant objects, such as dwarf planets beyond Pluto, we see that their orbits are somewhat unexpected. They move in very large elliptical (oval) orbits, cluster together, and exist at an inclination compared to the rest of the solar system," Webb said.
Computer simulations show that dwarf planets can indeed behave in this way, but only if there is another planet somewhere nearby that is at least ten times the mass of the Earth.
But, as the scientist notes, when it comes to finding this huge planet, it is easier said than done.
Scientists have been hunting for Planet X, which may be the same mythological Nibiru, for many years, but they can still only guess where it is and whether it actually exists.
According to computer models, Planet X is located at least 20 times further from the Sun than Neptune. This means that it reflects almost no light. This means that we need to look for a giant dark object in endless dark space. This is quite a task.
"It will be difficult to spot even with the best telescopes on Earth. In addition, we cannot look for it at any time of year," the scientist said.
Webb says that there are only small time windows when we can hope to find the planet.
"The conditions have to be perfect. In particular, we have to wait for a moonless night when the place we are observing from is facing the right part of the sky," Webb said.
She noted that the situation with the search for the planet could be changed by new telescopes to be built in the "next decade".
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told about the idea of astronomers who proposed to find Planet X thanks to NASA's Uranus exploration mission.