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Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects to Change Things Up in the International Race to Planet Nine

Jun 15, 2016 05:02 AM EDT

Astronomers from Spain and University of Cambridge have devised a new calculation confirming that the six extreme trans-Neptunian objects, which have been used to announce the existence of planet Nine, are not as stable as previously thought.

Earlier this year, Astronomers from the California Institute of Technology have announced the possible existence of a giant planet ten times the mass of the Earth lurking in our solar system. The said planet is believed to take between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete one revolution around the Sun.

The Caltech astronomers arrived at the conclusion that Planet Nine exists by running computer simulations with input data based on the orbits of six extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNOs). These ETNOs include Sedna, 2012 VP113, 2004 VN112, 2007 TG422, 2013 RF98 and 2010 GB174.

However, two freelance astronomers from Spain, accompanied by scientist Sverre J. Aarseth from the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Cambridge, conducted a study to determine how these ETNOs would behave if the proposed Planet Nine truly exists.

Their findings, published in the Monthly Notices Letters of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggest that if Planet Nine really exists, the ETNOs would move in lengthy, unstable orbits.

"These objects would escape from the Solar System in less than 1.5 billion years, and in the case of 2004 VN112, 2007 TG422 and 2013 RF98 they could abandon it in less than 300 million years; what is more important, their orbits would become really unstable in just 10 million years, a really short amount of time in astronomical terms," explained Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, one of the two Spanish freelance astronomer, in a statement.

With their findings, the researchers concluded that in order for the ETNOs to become really stable, there is a need for one or more planet beyond Pluto that are in mutual resonance.

"That is to say we believe that in addition to a Planet Nine, there could also be a Planet Ten and even more," Carlos added.

Evidences pointed out the existence of Planet Nine have been floating around and it has become an international race. If Planet was proven to exists, it will be the first planet to be discovered using entirely computerized numerical calculations.

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