‘Planet Nine’ does exist in solar system: NASA

The elusive ‘Planet Nine’ does exist, and may be 10 times the mass of the Earth and 20 times away from the Sun than Neptune, NASA scientists say.

‘Planet Nine’ could turn out to be our solar system’s missing ‘super Earth’ – a planet with a mass higher than the Earth’s, but substantially lower than the masses of ice giants Uranus and Neptune.

The signs so far are indirect, mainly its gravitational footprints, but that adds up to a compelling case, they said.

“There are now five different lines of observational evidence pointing to the existence of Planet Nine,” said Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in the United States.

“If you were to remove this explanation and imagine Planet Nine does not exist, then you generate more problems than you solve. All of a sudden, you have five different puzzles, and you must come up with five different theories to explain them,” said Batygin.

Six known objects in the distant Kuiper Belt, a region of icy bodies stretching from Neptune outward towards interstellar space, all have elliptical orbits pointing in the same direction, researchers said.

However, these orbits also are tilted the same way, about 30 degrees “downward” compared to the pancake-like plane within which the planets orbit the Sun, they said.

Computer simulations of the solar system with ‘Planet Nine’ included show there should be more objects tilted with respect to the solar plane.

The tilt would be on the order of 90 degrees, as if the plane of the solar system and these objects formed an “X” when viewed edge-on.

(Agencies)

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