Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

There are 8 known planets in the planetary system (since Pluto was booted from the club), but for a while, there has been some evidence that there may be one more. A theoretical Planet 9 prowling on the outer edge of our solar system. Far this world has actually eluded discovery, however a brand-new study has actually pinned down where it needs to be.
The proof for Planet 9 comes from its gravitational pull on other bodies. If the planet exists, its gravity will affect the orbits of other planets.

In the case of Planet 9, we dont have any gravitational result on a world. If there were no world beyond the Kuiper belt, you would expect the orbits of KBOs to be randomly oriented within the orbital airplane of the solar system.
The possible orbit of Planet Nine. Credit: CalTech/R. Hurt (IPAC).
Back in 2016, the authors looked at the analytical distribution of KBOs and concluded the clustering was caused by an unnoticed external planet. Orbital oddness does not show a planet exists. Others went so far as to argue Planet 9 does exist, but we cant see it since its a prehistoric black hole.
This brand-new research study reexamines the initial work in light of some of the criticism it got. One big criticism is that outer solar system bodies are challenging to discover, so we try to find them where its practical. The clustering result we see could simply be because of biased information. Taking observational bias into result, the authors discover the clustering is still statistically unusual. Theres just a 0.4% possibility of it being a fluke. When they recalculated the most likely orbit of Planet 9, they were able to better localize where to look.
One intriguing aspect of the study is that the newly determined orbit puts Planet 9 closer to the Sun than initially believed. The authors argue that observations therefore far have actually ruled out the closest alternatives for Planet 9, which helps narrow down its possible place even further.
This study isnt definitive, and many astronomers still argue that Planet 9 doesnt exist. However this study makes it clear that we wont have to argue about it for much longer. Either it will be discovered quickly, or observations will rule it out as a description for the KBO clustering result.
Recommendation: “The orbit of Planet Nine” by Michael E. Brown and Konstantin Batygin, 22 August 2021, Astrophysics > > Earth and Planetary Astrophysics.arXiv: 2108.09868.
Originally released on Universe Today.

A theoretical Planet 9 hiding on the outer edge of our solar system. If the planet exists, its gravity will affect the orbits of other planets. In the case of Planet 9, we dont have any gravitational effect on a planet. If there were no planet beyond the Kuiper belt, you would anticipate the orbits of KBOs to be arbitrarily oriented within the orbital airplane of the solar system. One fascinating aspect of the study is that the freshly determined orbit puts Planet 9 closer to the Sun than originally believed.

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