Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Counter-order, the Nine Planet does not exist

It's their collective gravity acting in concert that solves numerous puzzles posed thus far, Ann-Marie Madigan, a C.U. Boulder assistant professor and also author of the study, said.

The hypothetical Planet Nine, according to calculations, would be a gas giant with about 10 times the mass and four times the size of Earth, with an enormous orbit that would take between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete. "I think we can solve a lot of these problems by just taking into account that question".

Bodies in the extreme outer solar system that never come close enough to the Sun to be affected any any significant manner by the gravity of Neptune and the other major planets are known as "detached objects".

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

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Detached objects like Sedna get their name because they complete huge, circular orbits that bring them nowhere close to big planets like Jupiter or Neptune.

As Bennett reports, the search for Planet 9 began in 2014 with the publication of study showing that two objects that orbit the sun beyond Neptune (Sedna and 2012 VP113) had nearly circular orbits. We're still researching the farthest reaches of the solar system - and still hunting for Planet 9, if it's out there to start with.

Madigan and team weren't exactly looking to explain the odd 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. Sedna itself was only discovered in 2003, while the second-largest (by volume) and most massive dwarf planet, Eris, was found in 2005.

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

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"You see a pileup of the orbits of smaller objects to one side of the sun", says Jacob Fleisig, lead author of the study. "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 ".

These bumper car-like interactions can explain numerous anomalies out there, without needing to invent a huge Planet Nine.

The work explaining the collective gravity theory was presented at a press briefing at the 232nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society, which runs from June 3-7 in Denver. But because the largest objects are hurled into the most eccentric orbits, they become more hard to find, the researchers said.

It's not impossible one of these caused the collision which wiped out the dinosaurs, the researchers said. 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.

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"While we're not able to say that this pattern killed the dinosaurs", Fleisig said, "it's tantalizing". Now, a new theory has emerged that explains away the presence of Planet 9 in favor of something entirely different.

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