Evidence pointing at the existence of Planet Nine (Planet X?) continue to mount with a new study shedding light on how a binary asteroid system could have been been pushed apart into separate orbits because of influence from a massive planet beyond Pluto.
Ever since the first study by Caltech researchers that claimed to show through orbits of Kuiper belt objects that there could be a planet lurking beyond the Solar System, there has been a renewed interest in Planet Nine (Planet X?). Check out video that talks about the original study that first claimed to prove existence of Planet Nine below:
Now a new study that looked at two distant asteroids that were allegedly influenced by Planet Nine claims that the orbits of the two asteroids are almost identical and the poles of the orbits are separated by a very small angle. The asteroids are 2004 VN112 and 2013 RF98. These two distant objects starting as a pair orbiting one another became gradually separated in their orbits because they made an approach to a much more massive object at a particular moment in time, researchers say.
The findings indicate that they have a common origin, and their present-day orbits could be the result of a past interaction with the hypothetical Planet Nine, according to the team.
“The similar spectral gradients observed for the pair 2004 VN112 – 2013 RF98 suggests a common physical origin,” explained first author of the paper Julia de Leon, an astrophysicist at the Instituto de AstrofÃsica de Canarias (IAC) in Spain.
Researchers say that they are proposing the possibility that the asteroids could have been a binary asteroid which became unbound during an encounter with a more massive object. To validate this hypothesis, the team performed thousands of numerical simulations to see how the poles of the orbits would separate as time went on.
The results of these simulations suggest that a possible Planet Nine, with a mass of between 10 and 20 Earth masses orbiting the sun at a distance between 300 and 600 astronomical unit (AU) could have deviated the pair 2004 VN112 – 2013 RF98 around five and 10 million years ago. One astronomical unit equals to approximately 150 million kilometres.