A couple years ago, headlines were made when scientists announced that there must be a 9th planet in our solar system.
Some large gravitational force is pulling on dwarf planets in the outer regions of the Solar System (the Kuiper Belt), altering their orbits.
Dwarf planets such as Pluto, Eris, Orcus, Quaoar, Ixion, Haumea, or Makemake orbit the Sun differently from the other planets.
All the other planets are on one belt going around the Sun, the ecliptic plane: but the dwarf planets orbit in completely different ways like this.
(Image credit: Lunar Planner)
When scientists announced the discovery of a probable 9th planet, they implied the planet may orbit the Sun completely different from the 8 planets, perhaps even perpendicular to the ecliptic plane.
Now, scientists think there is a tenth planet due to even greater variation in the gravitational pulls on dwarf planets. According to the Independent:
“Now a similar analysis has revealed the possibility of a second new planet, dubbed Planet 10.
In a study to be published in the Astronomical Journal, Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra from the University of Arizona discovered that a number of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) are not orbiting in the way they would normally be expected to, suggesting something in the region is exerting a strong gravitational force on them.
Scientists said the most probable explanation for the discrepancy was the existence of a planet, similar in size to Mars, at the edge of the solar system.”
Kat Volk, a researcher involved with the discovery said:
“The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass. According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured.”
While this is extremely interesting, one thing to point out is that it’s very difficult for average people to reason through an announcement like this and take it as truth, objectively reasoning through its validity.
As usual with far out scientific discoveries involving space, it’s very interesting if true, but we can’t really know for sure that it is.
(Image credit: independent.co.uk)