a ninth planet to discover, and it’s not Pluto

Not long ago, we revealed to you details of the origins of our solar system. Today we wanted to share with you from a recent very interesting article concerning, again, our solar system. The latter indeed evokes the very high probability that there is a still unknown planet. in the far reaches of our solar system.

The planets of the solar system

The solar system has three zones: the zone of the inner planets, where Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are grouped together relatively tightly, then comes the asteroid belt, then the area of ​​the outer planets, which hosts Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, gas giants much more distant from each other, and what lies beyond.

Diagram of our solar system.

However, many scientists today believe that there could be a ninth planet in our solar system, and that the latter could be hidden somewhere beyond Neptune. And no, it’s not about Pluto.

A new planet to discover?

A small planet that looks a lot to Earth or planet Mars could have been pushed to the far reaches of our solar system, according to a new article published last month in the journal Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Arizona think that this hypothetical ninth planet could previously have whirled beyond the asteroid belt, among the gas giants, before the latter chased it from its original orbit. To come to declare that, the researchers studied various computer simulations describing the evolution of our solar system.

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In the published article, scientists hypothesize that a planet is necessarily missing to match the models they made. The article states (according to the Phys.org report):

Logic suggests that there should be planets of other sizes, and scientists’ simulations confirm this. Adding another Earth-sized planet, or Mars, to the outer solar system (perhaps between two gas giants), produces a more accurate model – at least during the early stages of the development of our solar system.

Research is therefore currently being relaunched for determine the initial position of this “planet 9” (scientists use this common name while waiting to potentially discover said planet, and rename it). But is planet 9 really a planet? Certain hypotheses affirm in fact that planet 9 could be, in reality, a small black hole. Or, to match the models of scientists, the latter could easily be 10 times the size of the Earth.

Which assumptions take precedence for the moment?

The article published in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics mainly focuses on one possibility: the one that the four gas giants pushed planet 9 at the edge of our solar system (the possibility that this planet 9 is a black hole is not the one retained for the moment). This hypothesis is possible when we know that Jupiter, for example, has already deflected small objects like comets or meteors as they approached our solar system.

But then, how to find planet 9, if the latter does indeed exist? Scientists believe increasingly powerful telescopes could allow us to find her in the near future. It may be necessary to rely on the LSST (Legacy Survey Space and Time), today known under the name of “Vera C. Rubin Observatory”, an American optical telescope large which should allow first observations in 2023, to learn more on the subject. This telescope, in fact, was built for the purpose of take inventory of solar system objects, learn more about the structure of the Milky Way, and learn more about dark matter.

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The M2 mirror and its barrel of the LSST.

We will therefore perhaps witness the discovery of a new planet in the solar system over the following years, which would once again increase the number of planets in our system to 9. And if you are passionate about the history of the solar system and space travel, know that a “motorway network” was previously discovered in our solar system; one of our previous articles comes back in more detail on this topic.

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