The proof for ‘Planet X’ – the mysterious postulated planet on the edge of our solar system – has taken a new turn thanks to the mathematics of a renowned astrophysicist. “Rodney Gomes”, an astrophysicist at the National Observatory of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, says the rough orbits of small icy bodies further than Neptune suggest that a planet four times the size of Earth is whirling around our sun in the borders of the solar system.
Planet X – may be misnamed now that Pluto has been moved down to a dwarf planet – has been extensively hypothesised for decade, but has never been proven. Gomes calculated the orbits of 92 Kuiper belt objects – small bodies and dwarf planets – and said that six objects seemed to be pulled off-course compared to their predictable orbits. The hypothetical planet – four times the size of Earth – will float further than Neptune and Pluto and cause turbulences in the Kuiper belt of asteroids.
He told astrophysicists at the American Astronomical Society that the most expected reason for the asymmetrical orbits was a ‘planetary-mass solar companion’ – a distant body of planet size that is influential enough to move the Kuiper belt objects. He proposed the planet would be four times larger than Earth – about the size of Neptune and would be 140 billion miles from the sun, or around 1,500 times further than the Earth.
Otherwise an object the size of Mars on a rough orbit that carried it to within five billion miles of the sun – close to Neptune’s orbit – could be the solution. Though, due to the distances involved, it will be hard to for earthbound astrophysicists to catch a sight of the hypothetical latest member of our solar system.
While other astrophysicists are on the planetary fence, they have applauded his methods. Rory Barnes, from the University of Washington told National Geographic that Gomes ‘has laid out a way to define how such a planet could carve parts of our solar system. ‘So while, yes, the proof doesn’t exist yet, I supposed the bigger point was that he revealed to us that there are ways to find that proof.
‘I don't think he actually has any proof that suggests it is out there.’
Hal Levison, from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said: ‘It appears astonishing to me that a [solar] companion as small as Neptune could have the outcome he sees. ‘[But] I know Rodney, and I’m sure he did the calculations right.’
This post was written by Usman Abrar. To contact the writer write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Facebook