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Mystery of ‘Planet Nine’ at the edge of our solar system deepens

Mystery of ‘Planet Nine’ at the edge of our solar system deepens

University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor Ann-Marie Madigan and a team of researchers have offered up a new theory for the existence of planetary oddities like Sedna. According to NASA, that planet would have to be substantial, with a mass 10 times that of Earth, orbiting the sun every 10,000 to 20,000 years, circling 20 times farther out than Neptune.

Scientists quantified the orbits of Sedna and its ilk may result from these bodies jostling against each other and space debris in the outer solar system. Fleisig, an undergraduate in astrophysics and his team of researchers suggest that perhaps a large singular body isn't what is causing the symptoms of Planet 9, but instead a large grouping of asteroids that are pulling on neighboring bodies.

A new theory presented at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society contends that the detached objects interact like bumper cars, creating the odd movements that appear to defy what we can see in the solar system so far.

Study suggests Planet Nine might not be responsible for detached objects in the solar system. I'm talking about the maybe-kinda-sorta hidden planet that might-kinda-maybe be lurking at the very distant edge of our solar system.

The work revealed that icy objects beyond Neptune move around the sun just like the hands of a clock, with smaller bodies moving quickly than bigger ones such as Sedna - a minor planet that takes 11,000 years to complete a single orbit around the sun.

The problem is, despite several years of searching, Planet 9 has not appeared.

The explanation may come from "bumper car-like interactions" going on in the Kuiper Belt and which cause these "detached objects" to slam into each other and collide with space debris.

Madigan and team weren't exactly looking to explain the unusual orbits of these bodies, but when Jacob Fleisig, the lead author of the study, ran a series of simulations to study the dynamics of these bodies, they were totally surprised.

An artist's rendering of Sedna, which looks reddish in color in telescope images.

"You see a pileup of the orbits of smaller objects to one side of the sun", Fleisig said in the statement, explaining the point when the two hands meet. "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 ".

She added: "The picture we have in our head is a lot of little moons floating around the solar system, interacting with comets".

"Planet Nine explains this really well, and we do not", Madigan said.

This theory matches a 2012 finding showing the larger a detached TNO becomes, the more distant its orbit gets from the Sun. As Madison tells Redd, it's possible that if gravity interactions among objects in the Kuiper Belt can sling minor planets outward, they could also redirect comets toward the inner solar system.

Well, as it turns out, the new theory that axes Planet Nine might also be tied to the dinosaur extinction.

'While we're not able to say that this pattern killed the dinosaurs.

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