There just might be a tenth planet in the solar system.
Scientists have found evidence that an unseen planet is lurking around the edges of the solar system, Tech Times reports. Different from Planet Nine, this mass is hiding in the Kuiper Belt, and could actually be Earth’s closer and smaller relative.
There have been missions to scour the universe for distant planets and solar systems that have produced impressive results. Scientists have found planets, galaxies and far-off solar systems that match – and even surpass – this one.
Advanced technologies have allowed astronomers and other scientists to make huge steps forward in space exploration. One of these is the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) which Renu Malhotra and Kat Volk used to discover a planetary mass hiding in the Kuiper Belt. This mass was found by observing its effects on the space rocks circling the belt.
The Kuiper Belt contains space rocks, icy bodies, minor planets and other dwarf planets on the outskirts of the Earth’s solar system. The Kuiper Belt objects (KBO) orbit the sun in a specific manner. But Volk and Malhotra observed that the most distant KBOs appeared to have their own path.
Specifically, some KOBs are tilted away from the plane by eight degrees, meaning there is something that might be interfering with the orbital plane of the outer solar system. This would be an object large enough to disrupt activity.
Volk believes that this warp can be explained by an unseen mass, likely as large as Mars. In short, a large object such as a planet could be hiding in the Kuiper Belt.
Malhotra and Volk calculated to make sure their observation was not a statistical fluke, and found that the average plane does warp away, leaving only the slimmest 1-2% chance that the warp is a fluke.
The scientists think that the reason this object has never been seen before is because it has been hiding all this time in the galactic plane – an area that solar system surveys avoid because it has so many stars.