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Planet X may be closer than thought

Planet X may be closer than thought

But that doesn’t make it clear that we’ll be discovering the planet any time soon.

can read in New study Which has not yet been peer-reviewed, but can already be viewed online. In the study, the scientists who provided the first evidence for the existence of Planet X years ago stated that the evidence for the existence of the mysterious planet is still strong. And they determine with greater accuracy the whereabouts of this planet.

How did you start
Several years ago, astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin Fantastic find. They encountered six objects in the Kuiper belt, all of which have elliptical orbits and follow the same direction in physical space. Strange coincidence? Brown argued that it is nearly impossible. “The probability that this is a coincidence is only 0.007 percent. In short, it can hardly be a coincidence. There must be something that sets the course for these things.” But then what? The researchers examined different scenarios and came to a surprising conclusion. Somewhere on the edge of the solar system, a large, hitherto unknown planet is said to exist.

Great interest
The mysterious planet was soon referred to as Planet X. Countless media wrote about it, and people all over the world were stunned by the idea that such a large object could be hidden from us in our solar system. “I honestly never thought our calculations would capture the public’s imagination so much,” says Batygin. Scientias. nl.

Continue searching
Scholars have also been engaged in Brown and Batygin’s calculations. While some have concluded that there must indeed be a hidden ninth planet in our solar system, others have questioned the clusters of Kuiper belt objects that Brown and Batygin provided as evidence. This gathering will not be the result of a mysterious planet, but the result of the so-called observer bias. “It’s actually a very simple concept,” explains Batygin. “Actually, the idea is that you can only discover celestial bodies where you are looking for them. So, if you have a study that only looks at one part of the universe, it can lead to the discovery of a group of objects that appear to be clustered.”

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small chance
in a New study However, Brown and Batygin strongly undermine this perceived bias of the observer. “We simulated the combined observer bias of all studies in which distant Kuiper belt objects have been detected and found that the probability of the clustering (which Brown and Batygin observed and appears to indicate the presence of Planet Nine) is a false alarm…between 0.2 and 0.4 percent.” Thus, The evidence for Planet X is still strong.

But Brown and Batygin took their new study one step further. They use the above Kuiper belt object observations to more accurately determine the characteristics and orbit of Planet X. Thus, based on all these data, the mass of the planet was determined to be about 6.2 Earth masses. In addition, there are indications that Planet X is getting closer than previously thought. When a planet (in its elliptical orbit) is far from the Sun, the distance between the Sun and Planet X is 380 AU (1 AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun). When the planet is closer to the sun, it is about 300 astronomical units away from our parent star. The angle of inclination of the orbit, or the angle it makes with respect to the Earth’s orbital plane, is 16 degrees.

treasure map
Thus, based on the available data, we have a more accurate picture of the possible orbit of Planet X. Mike Brown joked that the results of the search in the “treasure map”. But this does not mean that the treasure – Planet X – is ready to be seized. First of all, researchers offer not one, but several orbits, one of which is a little more acceptable than the other. “There is a wide range of possible orbitals and even less likely orbits that cannot be ruled out in any way,” warns Batygin. In addition, each orbit is essentially a series of possible locations and we have no idea where the planet is at the moment. So while it’s sure to be good news that Planet X may be closer than expected and we also now have a slightly better defined search area, it’s not clear that we’ll find Planet X either soon.

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Vera C Robin Observatory
However, Batygin hopes that Planet X will be found sometime within the next few years. For example, based on what we now know about the alleged planet, it can be discovered by under construction Vera C Robin Observatory in Chile. The observatory should see its first light next year.

Science at its best
Brown and Batygin’s research will almost certainly be re-examined by other scientists in the meantime. Because this science is at its best, says Batygin. “And that’s what makes it so fun!”

Amid all the calculations and discussions, pending the actual discovery of Planet X, there is of course always the possibility that the planet may not exist. It would undoubtedly come as a shock to Brown and Batygin, but somehow the conclusion that Planet X is a mirage could also be very exciting. “If Planet X did not exist, the number of open questions about the outer extensions of our solar system would suddenly increase,” Batygin said. “And that in itself is very interesting. Because remember, aggregating the orbits of Kuiper Belt objects is just one piece of evidence for the existence of Planet X. If Planet X does not exist, what causes the perihelion of distant Kuiper Belt objects to change? What is the source of the retrograde centaur? Without Planet X, all these questions remain unanswered. In this sense, it would be disappointing and exciting if it turns out that Planet X does not exist.”