Planet Nine may seem like a foregone conclusion in the mind of some astronomers but a new study may turn that idea on its head. Instead of suggesting that there may be another planet on the edges of the solar system, a new study says that orbits being affected by a planet are instead being affected by collective gravity.
There may not be a ninth planet in the solar system.
Existence Of Planet Nine
Researchers from Colorado University Boulder have come up with a new theory regarding the existence of planet nine. Ann-Marie Madigan and the team say that objects past Neptune, such as minor planet Sedna, may have a detached orbit due to collective gravity. Instead of another planet pulling on the orbit of these objects, they are all pulling among each other and space debris in the far reaches of the solar system.
Madigan says that a lot of the irregularities displayed by these objects could be explained by considering the collective gravity. She says that with a large number of objects in this part of the solar system, that this offers an explanation for the detached objects. Detached objects are given the name because they have massive circular orbits that don't come close to any of the large planets like Jupiter or Neptune.
Researchers used computer simulations to reach their conclusion. They calculated that the icy objects orbit the sun and pile up towards one side. As the smaller orbits crash into large bodies, the large objects change orbits from an oval shape into a circular shape. These constant interactions can change the orbits of the large objects which makes it seem like they're detached.
Objects like Sedna appear to have normal orbits until they hit one of the smaller objects which throws its orbit off making it seem detached, according to the theory being put forth by researchers.
Does Planet Nine Actually Exist?
A previous study released in May showed that there was a Trans Neptunian object that was possibly being affected by planet nine due to the size of its orbit. In October 2017, NASA released a statement saying that planet nine may be a super-Earth-sized planet that has 10 times the mass of the Earth.
A 2016 study shows that there are six objects in the Kuiper belt with elliptical orbits that are all being pulled in the same direction. All of the objects are being pulled in a tilted 30° downward angle.