Astronomers study the farthest reaches of our universe, but they never forget to look right on our doorstep. An international team of researchers have been studying an object whose trajectory could support the presence of a ninth planet in our solar system and its name is Planet Nine. It could be ten times bigger than Earth and orbiting hundreds of times farther than Neptune, the remotest star of our solar system to this day.
A circumstantial piece of evidence
This new piece of evidence is an object orbiting in one of the most remote areas of the solar system, the region of Neptune. It’s been named 2015 BP519 and was first detected in 2014 by the Dark Energy Survey, an international program that maps our skies for proof that dark energy exists. After being tracked for more than 1,000 days, 2015 BP519 caught the attention of David Gerdes, co-author of the study and his team, due to its unusual trajectory.
What’s strange about it is that its orbit tilts at a 54-degree angle to the eight planets we already know. One way to explain this is the presence of a massive object whose gravity could lead to such an inclination. The only object that could do such a thing is Planet 9. However, according to David Gerdes in Quanta Magazine:
This is not proof that Planet 9 exists, but I would say that the presence of such an object in our solar system supports the possibility of Planet 9.
A strong hypothesis which is still debated
This type of orbit was predicted in January 2016 by Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown, two American researchers from Cal Tech University. In their article, they supported the existence of the famous Planet 9 and have already mentioned the inclination of objects in the same area as 2015 BP519.
Even among these objects, this new discovery stands out due to its extreme inclination. This particularity makes it one singular object that we can study to better understand the mechanisms and the formation of the solar system. Some astronomers have actually put forward other hypotheses, in response to these questions, in order to explain this type of orbit. One notable example being the presence of huge objects during the formation of our solar system, 4.6 billion years ago, which could have caused these strange trajectories.
As long as Planet 9 can’t be seen through telescopes, its existence will be disputed. But when it’s discovered, its supporters will definitely be happy.
Check out the video above for more on this fascinating discovery!