Astronomers are nicknaming a “Planet 10” before even finding a “Planet 9”.
The reports are based on the study of gravitational influences on objects in the Kuiper belt.
Around 600 objects were tracked in a different plane of the solar system main 8 planets, their different orbits might be imposed by an object the mass of the Earth orbiting the Sun at around 5 billion kilometers away.
This put “Planet 10” way closer than the previously announced “Planet 9”, leading to even more confusion.
Beyond Neptune there is a lot of material, called the Kuiper belt. There has been discovered bodies with enough mass to be considered dwarf planets, like Pluto, Sedna, Eris.
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The tilt of the angles of the studied Kuiper belt objects relative to the inner solar system suggests 2 bodies with more mass than its surroundings, thus imposing a change in their orbits.
To catch the movements of such a particular planet reveals hard to focus when you point a telescope to a region with that much content as the trans-Neptunian region and some of the objects might be on their elliptical orbits far from the Sun. and some might even be against the region of the milky way disk, making almost impossible to locate a dim body against a field of background stars.
It is expected that “Planet 9” could be the mass of Uranus or Neptune, while “Planet 10” can be the mass of Mars or Earth.
These massive bodies are currently the only explanation to the altered orbits of the tracked Kuiper belt objects.
Other ideas were thrown around, like the passage of another star closely to our solar system and messing the orbits of the Kuiper belt, including sending comets and asteroids towards the planets of the inner solar system.
No planet was found and all these are predictions based on observations, astronomers are currently excited to look for more evidence, or even observing the object itself.
- “The curiously warped mean plane of the Kuiper belt”, Volk and Malhotra
- “Observational Constraints on Planet Nine: Astrometry of Pluto and Other Trans-Neptunian Objects” Holman and Payne
- “Shaping of the inner Oort cloud by Planet Nine” Michael and Loeb