Environment

What Is Planet 9?

Planet Nine is a planet thought to possibly exist in the outer solar system.

Planet Nine is a planet thought to possibly exist in the outer solar system. Planet nine has not been physically seen but its effect cut across the entire solar system. It remains a hypothetical planet that is being hunted by thousands of researchers and astronomers.

The Planet Nine Hypothesis

In January 2016 researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown from Caltech observed the behavior of six known space objects beyond Neptune and concluded that an external force caused their extreme tints. The objects in the Kuiper belt all faced the same direction and tilted 30 degrees downward unlike the eight known planets in solar system. The two planetary astrophysicist simulated the behavior of the solar system and realized that planets further from the sun experienced tilts of up to 90 degrees from the solar plane. Nasa had already observed five objects that portrayed similar characteristics. Planetary researchers had already observed that massive planets in other solar systems affected the orbits and tilt angles of planets. From their research, Batygin and Brown fueled the speculation that a massive planet ten times the size of earth but weigh 20 times less was located 200 astronomical units from the sun and completed an orbit around the sun in between 10,000-20,000 years. One astronomical unit is the distance between the sun and the earth (93 million miles). The hypothetical planet was named "planet nine."

Is Planet Nine Real?

After the theory was proposed, other planetary and space researchers supported it support based on their observations. Exoplanet researchers from the McGill University suggest that planet is likely to show up in the future cosmic microwave background. Their plan involved picking up the planet’s orbit using the Dark Energy Survey in the Southern Hemisphere. The project maps the orbit of giant planets and might be used to find the path of the planet. The researchers stated that the current existing survey equipment was unlikely to spot the planet due to its low weight and distance. The researchers hope to use the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii to find the planet in a year.

Where Did Planet Nine Come From?

Planets in the outer regions of the solar system far from the other planets are thought to be intruders of the system. Researchers can only model possibilities of their origin. It is thought that planet nine was a freely roaming planet that was gravitationally grabbed by the sun’s solar system. However, computer simulations revealed that the possibility of that happening was less than 2 percent. Researchers also agree that planet nine is likely to be a gas giant like Jupiter or ice giant like Neptune.

Is Planet Nine a Threat to the Solar System?

Planet nine is physically not a threat to any planet in the solar system. Its orbit is so vast and does not cut across any other orbit. However, other researchers think that the planet might divert the orbit of asteroids and other freely moving space objects and hurl them towards earth or other planets, the consequence would be a chain of colliding planets that would prove to be the end of life on earth.

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