A team of researchers including astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Chadwick Trujillo out of Northern Arizona University believe they have found evidence for a ninth super planet on the far reaches of our solar system.
The team discovered a number of extreme objects orbiting together beyond the reach of Neptune. These extreme objects are way too far from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune for those planets to affect their orbit. Thus they believe there is a ninth super planet these objects are orbiting around.
This super planet is surmised to be 200 times farther from the sun than Earth and five times further away than Pluto. They believe the planet to be 15 times the size of Earth with an extremely oblong orbit around the sun.
Sheppard explains the reasoning behind the oddly shaped orbit, “I think one of the biggest things we’ve realized in the last 10 years is that the giant planets didn’t form where we see them today. They actually moved around quite a bit and pushed each other around.”
Rendering of the new and previously known orbits of distant solar system objects
The theory goes that many of the planets today all grew up in a very rich area for planet formation, but the giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn pushed the small planets away from the region. Sheppard and company believe this happened to Planet Nine. It became enormous feeding on the ice until it got too close to one of the other planets throwing it into the outer reaches of the solar system and creating its oblong orbit.
Sheppard hopes to confirm the existence of Planet Nine in the near future, “If we do find this planet in the next few years, it would be pretty amazing discovery for astronomy. It’s kind of mind-blowing to know that something bigger than the Earth is sitting out there in the solar system and we haven’t been able to see it.”
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