Is an extra world hidden on the edge of our solar system? Evidence that Planet Nine DOES exist piles up as experts show it could explain the strange orbits of distant rocks

Thursday, October 19, 2017
By Paul Martin

Experts have long debated whether the solar system has an elusive ninth planet
The celestial body would explain the bizarre orbits of some distant rocky objects
Experts have now used a series of computer simulations to test this theory
A ninth planet with the dimensions proposed would explain the movement of distant rocks called Trans-Neptunian Objects

19 October 2017

Scientists have long debated whether or not a mysterious ninth planet lurks at the edge of our solar system.

Some astronomers think the existence of the alleged planet – which they claim is 10 times the size of Earth – explains the bizarre way some distant objects in space move.

Now scientists have found new evidence that ‘Planet Nine’ exists by building simulations of the solar system with different sizes of the celestial body.

They found that the unusual orbits of distant rocks in our system can be explained by the presence of a ninth planet with the dimensions scientists have proposed.

Last week, Nasa highlighted five lines of evidence pointing to the existence of the elusive world, and said that imagining Planet Nine does not exist generates more problems than it solves.

Planet Nine was first theorised by experts from Caltech in 2014 when they spotted that some objects in space, called ‘Trans-Neptunian Objects’, or TNOs, behave strangely.

These TNOs are rocky objects smaller than Pluto that orbit the sun further out than Neptune.

But the orbits of the most distant of these TNOs – those with 250 times further from the sun than Earth – all point in the same direction.

Astronomers claim that this is explained by the gravitational pull of a ninth planet in our solar system that orbits 20 times farther from our sun than Neptune.

But some researchers say that for Planet Nine to have aligned the TNOs in this way, the small objects would have to be at least a billion years old.

In this time they should have smashed into other planets or been knocked out of their orbits, some astronomers claim, meaning Planet Nine’s gravity can’t explain their synchronised orbits.

Researchers at the University of Michigan looked at simulations of the solar system both with and without the existence of Planet Nine to see how this might change the movement of TNOs.

In each simulation, the researchers tested different sizes of Planet Nine to see whether that version of the planet, with its gravitational forces, led to the same version of the solar system we see today.

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