Tantalizing new hints of Planet X beyond Pluto

BY JEREMY MORROW | PUBLISHED: 06-24-2017

Volk and Malhotra are hoping that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, set to begin operation in 2020, will unlock the mystery of missing Planet X.

A new analysis of the Kuiper Belt by astronomers at the University of Arizona is raising the intriguing possibility that a ninth planet, also known as Planet X, is hiding beyond Pluto.

The results are published in the Astrophysical Journal.
Researchers found that the orbital planes of several rings of asteroids and other frozen bodies beyond Neptune are tilted off axis by about 8 degrees. This suggests the orbits are being affected by the gravity of a large mass possibly Planet X.

"The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass," said astronomer Kat Volk of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, in a statement. "According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured."

The rocky and icy bodies or Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) are unstable and not in smooth orbits like planets. But astronomers can locate a pattern by averaging their orbital orientation.

"Imagine you have lots and lots of fast-spinning tops, and you give each one a slight nudge," said researcher Renu Malhotra. "If you then take a snapshot of them you will find that their spin axes will be at different orientations, but on average, they will be pointing to the local gravitational field of Earth."

Volk and Malhotra are hoping that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, set to begin operation in 2020, will unlock the mystery of missing Planet X

 

 

Comments
Jose Jefferies - Jul 21, 2017
Volk and Malhotra are hoping that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, set to begin operation in 2020, will unlock the mystery of missing Planet X.
Jason Spencer - Jul 20, 2017
Volk and Malhotra are hoping that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, set to begin operation in 2020, will unlock the mystery of missing Planet X.
James Carlin - Jul 18, 2017
Volk and Malhotra are hoping that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, set to begin operation in 2020, will unlock the mystery of missing Planet X.
Harry Marcolis - Jul 18, 2017
Volk and Malhotra are hoping that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, set to begin operation in 2020, will unlock the mystery of missing Planet X.
Linda Mack - Jul 18, 2017
Volk and Malhotra are hoping that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, set to begin operation in 2020, will unlock the mystery of missing Planet X.
James Smith - Jul 17, 2017
Volk and Malhotra are hoping that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, set to begin operation in 2020, will unlock the mystery of missing Planet X.
Harry Marcolis - Jul 17, 2017
Volk and Malhotra are hoping that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, set to begin operation in 2020, will unlock the mystery of missing Planet X.