Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Planet Nine Might Not Be Responsible For Bizarre Orbits Of Distant Objects


In the new study, a group of scientists led by Ann-Marie Madigan of the University of Colorado at Boulder's (CU Boulder) Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences (APS), propose the many TNOs in the outer solar system could be jostling one another much like bumper cars do. This minor planet orbits Earth's sun at a distance of 8 billion miles but appears separated from the rest of the solar system. "We can solve a lot of these problems by just taking into account that question", she explained.

Using computer simulations, the astronomers showed that small TRANS-Neptunian asteroids move in their orbits faster than larger objects like Sedna. To further reshuffle the cards on the table today comes a new study conducted by the experts of the University of Colorado at Boulder and presented during the 23rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, according to which the gravitational anomalies detected at the edges of the solar system, those for the fact they had suggested the existence of the Planet Nine, would be attributed instead to the internal dynamics of a cluster of space debris orbiting the Sun "colliding" with each other along its own trajectory.

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

In the far reaches of the Solar System, objects go into some weird orbits, and astronomers have been baffled as to why.

According to CU Boulder, the team looked at one of these objects in particular - a dwarf planet called Sedna, which orbits the sun at a distance of almost eight billion miles and is distant enough so as not to be affected by Neptune's gravity, the Inquisitr previously reported - and tried to understand why its orbit looks the way it does. Caltech's Konstantin Batygin, for one, does not think the Kuiper Belt objects have enough mass to pull minor planets and asteroid out of their orbit. However, searches for the planet over the last two years have been unsuccessful.

Artist's rendition on the dwarf planet Sedna, which looks reddish in color in telescope images.

NASA spots distant, lonely neutron star
For the first time, astronomers have discovered a particular kind of neutron star that is located outside the Milky Way galaxy. These neutron stars were initially discovered by the British astrophysicist named Jocelyn Bell near about fifty years ago.

According to the researchers' simulations, the TNOs move like hands on a clock, with the most massive objects moving slowly, like the hour hand, and the smaller ones ticking along quickly, like the minute hand.

"The objects we've seen so far are just the tip of the iceberg", Fleisig said.

"These orbits crash into the bigger body, and what happens is those interaction will change its orbit from an oval shape to a more circular shape".

These bumper car-like interactions can explain numerous anomalies out there, without needing to invent a huge Planet Nine. While the researchers couldn't directly connect their observations to the collision that wiped out the dinosaurs and most life on Earth, Fleisig called the possibility "tantalizing".

The gravitational interactions among TNOs may also explain another unusual event: the extinction of the nonavian dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.

"The handful we've seen is not enough", Fleisig said.

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