Scientists believe that they can be a giant planet in our distant solar system, possibly the long sought-after Planet X.
It is believed to have a mass of about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the Sun on the average than Neptune. As a result, it would be this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make a complete revolution around the Sun.
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“This would be a real ninth planet,” CalTech researcher Mike Brown, who along with his colleague Konstantin Batygin, made the discovery that they are calling Planet Nine. “There are only two true planets which have been discovered since ancient times, and this would be a third. It is a fairly significant piece of our solar system, that there is still to be found, that is pretty exciting.”
Already gearing up for the questions about whether it is a real planet, Brown points out that it is 5,000 times the mass of Pluto, and gravity dominates the neighborhood of the solar system – more than any other known planet.
It is “the most earth-y of the planets in the entire solar system,” said Brown, who is famous for helping reduce Pluto to a dwarf planet.
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Describing their work in the current issue of the Astronomical Journal, one of the researchers said in a statement that the Planet Nine helps to explain a number of mysterious properties of the field of icy objects and debris beyond Neptune known as the kuiper belt.
“Although we were initially rather skeptical that this planet could not exist, as we continue to examine his job and what it would mean for the outer solar system, we become more and more convinced that there is,” Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science, said. “For the first time in more than 150 years, there is hard evidence that the solar system, planetary census is incomplete.”
Brown and his colleagues, for the first time on the track of the Planet as Nine in 2014, when a former postdoc of Brown’s Chad Trujillo and his colleague Scott Shepherd published a paper noting that 13 of the most distant objects in the Kuiper Belt are similar with respect to some obscure orbital function. They suggested the agreements alluded to the presence of a small planet.
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The researchers for the first time held that there was enough distant Kuiper Belt objects – that have not yet been discovered – to exert the force of gravity needed to that subpopulation clustered. But quickly ruled this out when it turned out that such a scenario would be the Kuiper Belt to have about 100 times the mass today is the day.
That left them with the idea of a planet.
The run of a simulation in which the planet’s closest approach to the Sun, or perihelion, is 180 degrees opposite the perihelion of all the other objects and the known planets – the distant Kuiper Belt objects in the simulation, it is assumed that the alignment that they observe.
The presence of the Planet 9 helps explains a number of features of the Kuiper Belt, including the adaptation and the mysterious jobs that some of the objects to trace.
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The first of these objects, named Sedna, was discovered by Brown in 2003. In contrast to the standard variety Kuiper Belt objects, which are gravitationally “kicked out” by Neptune and then back to the Sedna never very close to Neptune.
The researchers also found that their simulations predicted that there would be objects in the Kuiper Belt on orbits inclined perpendicular to the plane of the planets. In the last three years, observers have identified four objects to track jobs approximately along a vertical line of Neptune, and an object along the other.
“We plotted the positions of the objects and their orbits, and they match the simulations exactly,” Brown said. “When we discovered that, my jaw sort of hit the floor.”
“When the simulation is aligned with the distant Kuiper Belt objects such as Sedna, we thought that this is kind of awesome — you kill two birds with one stone,” Batygin added. “But with the existence of the planet also, the interpretation of these perpendicular orbits, not only by killing two birds, you are also a bird that you didn’t know was sitting in a tree.”
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Brown suggests that the Planet Nine could show that there were five instead of four, planetary cores that marked the beginning of the solar system. It is believed that these four cores devoured all the gas around them, are the four gaseous planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. If Planet Nine represents this fifth core, Brown said, had cast out in a distant, eccentric orbit as it got close to Jupiter or Saturn.