Planet 9 | Name of the ninth planet
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- A smaller planet more like Earth or Mars could have been pushed to the far reaches of our solar system (or deep space), according to one new paper.
- Scientists believe Planet 9 looked more like Planet 6 or 7, meaning it once spun among gas giants before they finally knocked it out of orbit.
- The solar system has three zones: the inner planets, the outer planets and what is beyond.
Scientists believe that there could be a ninth planet in our solar system, lurking somewhere beyond Neptune, but don’t get too excited, because this is not on Pluto.
Rather, it is the story of a mysterious planet the size of Earth or Mars that may have swirled past the asteroid belt, among the gas giants, before they finally swept this away. Potential “Planet 9” to the far reaches of our solar system. .. or even in deep space. The theory makes sense at first glance: Jupiter is sort of known as a tyrant after all.
So say two researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Arizona who have studied various computer simulations describing the evolution of our solar system. Their findings are presented in a new paper, published last month in the Annual review of astronomy and astrophysics.
In it, scientists speculate that something is missing from these models, such as the fact that our solar system would have four gas giants in a row (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and no other planet after that other than small, irregular dwarf planets like Pluto.
“Logic suggests that there should be planets of other sizes, and their simulations support them,” Phys.org reports. “Adding another planet the size of Earth or Mars to the outer solar system, perhaps between two of the gas giants, produces a more accurate model, at least during the early stages of development.”
The new research focuses on the initial position of this “Planet 9” – a common name for the loose collection of hypotheses about a potential ninth planet outside of the main area of our solar system. Planet 9 could be a black hole, for example, or it could be 10 times the size of the Earth.
Specifically, the article focuses on the possibility that the four gas giants pushed Planet 9 to the far reaches of the solar system. The planets exert gravity on each other, which is part of the reason experts suspect Planet 9 exists in the first place.
How then could gas giants push back a much smaller and denser planet? Jupiter above all already acts as a linebacker in orbit, deflecting smaller objects like comets or meteors as they approach the solar system. (This is one of the many reasons why a Melancholy-like a rogue planet is extremely unlikely.)
The scale of our solar system seems even greater when you consider where you think roughly where Planet 9 exists. First, there is the area of the inner planets, where Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are relatively tight against each other. After that is the asteroid belt.
From there, the scale zooms out to accommodate Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, all gas giants much further apart. Neptune may appear small among these titans (see image above), but is still several times the mass of Earth, and large enough to fit 57 lands inside By volume.
After that is the Kuiper Belt, full of icy rocks and other small objects. Pluto is the star of this so-called third zone, a huge expanse dotted, until now, with dwarf planets and other celestial bodies such as comets. This is where scientists are stuck, because it seems so unlikely that our solar system’s evolution will only spit out four very similar gas giant cores and then stop.
How to find planet 9 if it exists? These scientists postulate that increasingly powerful telescopes may bring us some closure in the near future. Otherwise, a string theorist came up with something a little wild last year: a set of tiny probes that would cover the third zone in order to shake up any objects – like larger planets or even the primordial black hole – that some scientists believe is Planet 9.
Correction, October 9, 2021: A previous story incorrectly referred to the asteroid belt as the Kuiper Belt. In fact, the Kuiper Belt is a disc containing comets, asteroids, and dwarf planets beyond Neptune’s orbit.
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