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Strange Space Objects Could Lead Us To Planet Nine

Aug 30, 2016 05:11 AM EDT
Hypothetical Planet Nine
Scientists have discovered several objects in the outer solar system, which point to the existence of the hypothetical world Planet Nine.
(Photo : Kevin Gill / Flickr)

Scientists searching for Planet Nine have not had any success yet.

But they did find new objects that could lead to the existence of the mysterious cosmic world.

Astronomers from the Carnegie Institution for Science and Northern Arizona University have found huge space rocks in the extreme outskirts of the solar system, which seemed to be pulled by a gravitational force from a very large mass.

The so-called "extreme Trans-Neptunian objects" are small objects that could provide clues to where Planet Nine or Planet X is. According to the scientists, the objects could help pinpoint the ninth planet because its gravity will influence the movements of the smaller objects that are located far beyond Neptune.

Scientists Scott Sheppard of Carnegie Science and Chadwick Trujillo of Northern Arizona University have submitted their discoveries for designation to the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center and detailed their findings in a paper, which will be published in The Astronomical Journal.

"Objects found far beyond Neptune hold the key to unlocking our Solar System's origins and evolution," Sheppard said in a press release.

"Though we believe there are thousands of these small objects, we haven't found very many of them yet, because they are so far away. The smaller objects can lead us to the much bigger planet we think exists out there. The more we discover, the better we will be able to understand what is going on in the outer Solar System."

The submitted objects for designation include 2014 FE72, which is the first distant Oort Cloud object that orbits beyond Neptune. The orbit takes the object far away from the sun, about 3,000 times farther than Earth, and is likely being influenced by forces of gravity from beyond the solar system.

Other objects discovered were the 2014 SR349 and 2013 FT28, which, as their movement and orbital characteristics indicate, point to the possibility that a ninth planet exists, the scientists said.

"We have 15 or so of these extreme objects now, and all of them cluster in this argument of perihelion angle," Sheppard said in a report by Space.

In 2014, Sheppard and Trujillo announced the discovery of 2012 VP113, nicknamed "Biden," which has the most distant known orbit in the solar system. The scientists found that 2012 VP113, the dwarf planet Sedna that has highly elliptical orbits, and other extremely distant objects share the same orbital characteristics, which led them to hypothesize that the paths of these objects are influenced by a large planet in the region, and this came to be known as Planet Nine.

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