Though no evidence suggests a ghostly planet exists in our stellar system, theories of the hypothetical planet, which is said to be 10 times the size of Earth, have been doing rounds for nearly two years. "I think we can solve a lot of these problems by just taking into account that question".
Scientists have witnessed a bunch of "detached" celestial bodies with weird orbits in the outer edges of our solar system. Unlike that unique ninth planet, Sedna and other separated very big, orbits that bring them no place near huge planets like Jupiter or Neptune. In recent years, astronomer Mike Brown and others have suggested the gravity of an as-yet-undetected world - Planet Nine - is needed to explain the orbits of several of these distant bodies.
The researchers calculated the mass of hundreds of trans-Neptunian objects and discovered that it wouldn't be a stretch for similar bodies to create enough gravitational pull to yank objects as large as dwarf planets into freakish orbits.
Using computer simulations, Madigan's team came up with one possible answer. However, searches for the planet over the last two years have been unsuccessful. The physical mechanism by which these massive minor planets become detached is now unknown.
An artist's rendering of Sedna, which looks reddish in color in telescope images.
Jacob Fleisig, an undergraduate studying astrophysics at CU Boulder, calculated that these icy objects orbit the sun like the hands of a clock. "The smaller ones move faster than the larger ones; when the bodies crash, the orbits change in shape and orientation due to these small-scale interactions ".
"The picture we have in our head is a lot of little moons floating around the solar system, interacting with comets", Madigan told reporters yesterday during a news conference, notes Space.com. A paper presented on Monday at the 232nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Denver, proposes a different idea.
These bumper car-like interactions can explain numerous anomalies out there, without needing to invent a huge Planet Nine.
This theory matches a 2012 finding showing the larger a detached TNO becomes, the more distant its orbit gets from the Sun.
According to the team, the dinosaur-killing asteroid that hammered our planet 65 million years ago, wiping out almost 75 percent of life on Earth, could have been sent on its collision path by the periodic comet showers that turned up in Fleisig's computer model.
Well, as it turns out, the new theory that axes Planet Nine might also be tied to the dinosaur extinction. According to the researchers, the interaction between space debris and bigger objects in the outer solar system could have triggered repeated orbital changes, which in turn, could have shot comets toward the inner part of the neighborhood, including Earth. "While we're not able to say that this pattern killed the dinosaurs, it's tantalizing", says Fleisig.