New evidence supporting the existence of Planet Nine (Planet X?) have surfaced in the form of a new study that claims that the unusual tilt of the Sun could be attributed to this massive, undiscovered planet that is lurking at the edge of our Solar System.
Researchers at California Institute of Technology’s (Caltech) were the first to predict the existence of a massive planet and while there has been no direct observation of this planet, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown – the scientists who proposed existence of Planet Nine (Planet X?) – claim that there indeed is a planet that is massive and is orbiting the Sun in a greater tilted orbit compared to the other planets.
According to the latest study about Planet Nine by Elizabeth Bailey and others there is more evidence that this massive planet may be the reason behind a wobble to the solar system, giving the appearance that the sun is tilted slightly. Bailey explains that while all the other planets of our Solar System orbit in a flat plane with respect to the sun, roughly within a couple degrees of each other, the plane rotates at a six-degree tilt with respect to the sun —giving the appearance that the sun itself is cocked off at an angle.
Batygin and Brown predict a planet 10 times more massive than Earth and at a distance roughly 20 times farther from the sun on average than Neptune’s and this planet effectively changes the physics. Planet Nine (Planet X?), based on their calculations, appears to orbit at about 30 degrees off from the other planets’ orbital plane — in the process, influencing the orbit of a large population of objects in the Kuiper Belt, which is how Brown and Batygin came to suspect a planet existed there in the first place.
According to the researchers’ calculations, such a hypothetical planet would complete one orbit around the Sun roughly every 17,000 years and, at its farthest point from our central star, it would swing out more than 660 astronomical units, with one AU being the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.
“Every time we look carefully, we continue to find that Planet Nine explains something about the solar system that had long been a mystery,” added Batygin, assistant professor of planetary science.
The findings bolster previous work by other scientists that showed that six of those bodies travel on highly eccentric orbits whose long axes all point in the same direction. This clustering of orbital parameters of the most distant KBOs suggested a large, planetary size body shepherding their orbits.
How did Planet Nine achieve its unusual orbit?
Though that remains to be determined, Batygin suggests that the planet may have been ejected from the neighbourhood of the gas giants by Jupiter, or perhaps may have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other stellar bodies in the solar system’s extreme past. The findings have been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.