A popular hypothesis is that an unseen object called Planet Nine could interfere with orbit. Astronomers are curiously searching for this planet. But earlier this year, physicists offered an alternative explanation, which they thought was more likely.
Rather than one large object, orbital wobbles can be caused by the combined gravitational forces of several small trans-Neptunian objects. If it sounds familiar, it’s because Antranik Sefilian and Jihad Touma were not the first to think of the idea, but Touma and Sefilian were the first to explain the important features of the strange orbits of these objects, considering the eight other planets in the Solar System.
A hypothesis for Planet Nine was first announced in a study in 2016. Astronomers working on a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt have observed that many TNOs are disconnected from the strong gravitational influence of the Solar System’s gas giants and have strange loop orbits different from the rest of the Kuiper Belt.
However, the orbits of these six objects were also randomly clustered together, as if something had pulled them into this position. According to the modeling, it could also make a giant planet that has not been seen before. So far this planet has remained obscure because it is so far away and there are significant technical barriers to seeing a dark object we don’t know where.
The researchers also created a computer model of the Solar System planets and a huge debris disk that traverses the orbit of Neptune. “If you remove Planet Nine from the model and instead let a large number of small objects spread out over a wide area, co-locations between these objects can easily compute the eccentric orbits we see in some TNOs,” Sefilian said. said. “We don’t have direct observational evidence of the Disc and Planet Nine, so we’re exploring other possibilities. With each new TNO’s discovery, we gather more and more evidence that can help explain their behavior,” he added.