The mysterious ninth planet of the solar system

Snape Nine

Rogue planets are quite unusual – they exist outside of a star system and can even escape their home systems and travel through space on their own. Now, New Mexico State University researchers James Vesper and Paul Mason believe there could be a rogue planet lurking near the fringes of our solar system.

In a paper presented at this year’s American Astronomical Science meeting and published by the American Astronomical Society, the team argues that the mysterious Planet Nine – proposed to exist only two years ago – may be a rogue that has been captured by our solar system. We don’t know much else about Planet Nine other than the possibility that it exists far beyond Pluto in an area known as the Kuiper Belt. Observed gravitational patterns suggest that Planet Nine is hiding out there somewhere.

Vesper and Mason ran 156 computer simulations of how rogue planets might interact with our solar system — and they surmised that the rogue planet looked like planet nine, about 10 times the size of Earth. In their tests, they concluded that rogue planets would encounter our system 60% of the time. In these cases, a rogue planet would come and go, possibly taking a smaller or dwarf planet with it. In some cases, however, it is possible that 40% of the time a rogue planet will instead be captured by our Sun’s gravitational basin and remain on the fringes of our system.

If a rogue planet were captured, it would orbit the sun at roughly the same speculated distance as Planet Nine – which is around 1000 AU (Earth resides 1 AU away). It is also unlikely to be larger than Neptune, as there have been no noticeable disturbances in the order of the solar system suggesting something larger has entered it.

Credits: Caltech/R. Injured (IPAC)

We’ll find it soon enough

Computer simulations are useful, especially since they normally use facts and figures that have already been observed and confirmed. It is inevitable that we rely on such simulations to study the known universe because we do not know much about what is there.

We have accumulated a lot of information over the years, thanks to the various space exploration tools that we have in place – satellites, ground-based telescopes and space telescopes of all kinds have greatly contributed to improving our knowledge of the universe. But these have their limits, no doubt. Right now, for example, we can’t even confirm if Planet Nine does indeed exist.

That’s why we are continually improving our space observation capabilities through better technology. Among these is the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which was completed late last year and is scheduled for launch in 2018. Its payload of advanced mirrors and lenses make it the space telescope the biggest and most powerful of all time, and it will greatly increase our capacity. see in space.

It may be the one that will confirm the existence of Planet Nine, as well as many other space mysteries. We just have to wait and see.

Arline J. Mercier