Scientists may have discovered a mysterious Mars-sized planet

Scientists may have discovered a mysterious Mars-sized planet
Sarah Kaplan, The Washington Post (c)
First posted: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 07:03 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 07:22 PM EDT
A mysterious celestial body may be lurking in the frozen, far-flung reaches of the solar system, scientists say.
This is not the proposed "Planet Nine," a ginormous body that Caltech scientists believe could be tugging at the orbits of the solar system's most distant inhabitants. And it's not Pluto. (Sorry Pluto, you still don't count.)
Instead, University of Arizona astronomers Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra say it's a Mars-sized body in the Kuiper belt, a swarm of small icy objects that extends beyond the orbit of Pluto. If both the Arizona and Caltech researchers are right, then these proposed bodies could bring the total number of planets in our solar system to 10.
Volk and Malhotra haven't seen their new planet, but they say they can sense its presence. In a new paper due to be published in the Astronomical Journal, they describe an odd distortion in the orbits of objects in the outer part of the Kuiper belt, ones that are between 50 and 80 AU away (AU stands for astronomical unit, or the distance from the sun to Earth, about 92 million miles).
Though most of the nearer bodies in the solar system circle the sun in the same plane, largely thanks to Jupiter's steadying heft, these far away Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) orbit at all kinds of wonky angles.
That in itself wouldn't raise too many questions. But when Volk and Malhotra analyzed these orbits in search of the average plane, they found that it was offset by about 8 degrees.
"It's significant," Volk said. "And the most likely explanation is this object on the outer solar system."
If there is a planet out there with roughly the same mass as Mars, its gravity could pull on the orbits of small KBOs, dragging them out of the "invariable plane" that Earth, Jupiter and the rest of the planets inhabit.
The Caltech researchers used similar logic to infer the presence of Planet Nine, arguing that this "massive perturber" is responsible for peculiarities in the point at which KBOs are closest to the sun.
"It's the same idea of indirectly detecting a planet by its effects," Volk said.
For their study, Volk and Malhotra examined the orbits of about 600 KBOs. Scientists know of roughly 2,000 KBOs right now, but they believe there may be as many 100,000 of significant size.
"It would be useful to have more Kuiper belt objects to make sure this is a real signal," Volk acknowledged. But even so, their analysis suggests there's only a 1 to 2 percent chance that the results are a result of a fluke in the data.
Alessandro Morbidelli at the Côte d'Azur Observatory in Nice, France, told New Scientist he found it hard to believe that astronomers could have missed something as big as a planet so nearby. (The Caltech scientists' "Planet Nine" is said to be 10 times as distant, which explains why it's been so hard to track down.)
"I am dubious that a planet so close and so bright would have remained unnoticed," Morbidelli said.
Adding an extra planet to the solar system has long been astronomers' favorite way to explain any orbital weirdness. Scientists spent more than a century searching in vain for a fabled "Planet X" that was believed to be disrupting the orbit of Uranus. It wasn't until the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by in the 1990s that they realized the so-called "disturbance" was actually a result of a miscalculation of Neptune's size. So the astronomy community is understandably skeptical when anyone claims to have proof of a new planet.
But none of the potential alternate explanations seem any more suitable, said Volk. Another force capable of creating this effect, a large passing star, would be even more unlikely because the disturbance would be erased within 100,000 years - an astronomical blink of an eye.
Besides, humans don't know nearly enough about our celestial backyard to rule out the possibility of finding new neighbors, she said. Because they are so small and far away, KBOs look like faint stars even to the most powerful telescopes. We only discover new bodies in this region by detecting their motion against the background of stars - a process that requires long nights of patient observation. Scientists have been accumulating new KBOs since they detected the first one, in 1992, and even still, we haven't surveyed the whole sky.
The most likely hiding spot for the proposed 10th planet, according to Volk, is the galactic plane - the region of the Kuiper belt that lines up with the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Because this region is so crowded with stars, it would be nearly impossible to detect even a Mars-sized object moving across the background. If an ordinary search for a KBO is like a celestial game of "Where's Waldo," this is like trying to find Waldo when an additional billion background characters have been added to the page.
"We have a good sense of the outer solar system," Volk said, "but it would not surprise me at all if there are very distant things we have missed."
A planet the size of Mars could be messing with the orbits of objects in the Kuiper belt. (Heather Roper/LPL/ Washington Post)

Scientists may have discovered a mysterious Mars-sized planet | World | News | T
Curious Cdn
" They've finally discovered Zog." he said as he wiped his face with his red reptilian tongue.
#3  Top Rated Post
That's his face...?
Isn't food supposed to go IN when its a face?

lol, the wapo...the paper that's orbiting uranus
Curious Cdn
Quote: Originally Posted by Danbones View Post

That's his face...?
Isn't food supposed to go IN when its a face?

lol, the wapo...the paper that's orbiting uranus

You might get home, yet.
Oooops sorry, the reception is not all that great here on earth...too many chemtrails

could you repeat that?
This mysterious planet could be a security threat or it could be a worm hole or it could be a small black hole or it could be a Russian Made death Star on station waiting for Putin to push it's activation button.
Last edited by darkbeaver; Jun 28th, 2017 at 06:44 AM..
Class M?
Transgender planet.

Quote: Originally Posted by Liberalman View Post

Class M?

It may be also a class F as Dark Beaver has indicated
so to be fair we called at a classless MF planet


Klaatu- Anus Of Uranus
Let,s investigate the not quite as mysterious reasons for publishing a story about mysterious objects in mysterious regions of near space. I have a mysterious lump on my head this morning and the lab is mysteriously littered with empty beer cans, I,m at a loss to explain the mysterious mess. A preliminary investigation indicate a mysterious home invasion of some as yet totally inexplicable cause.
Police refuse to get involved.
Curious Cdn
Quote: Originally Posted by darkbeaver View Post

Transgender planet.
Hoof Hearted
I wonder if it's a lesbian planet where the dinosaurs are all named Lickalotopuss.
bill barilko
Mormonism's Most Idiotic Beliefs Laid Bare
Quote: Originally Posted by Hoof Hearted View Post

I wonder if it's a lesbian planet where the dinosaurs are all named Lickalotopuss.

I used to go out with a girl claimed that was her favorite animal.
Bar Sinister
Quote: Originally Posted by Danbones View Post

That's his face...?
Isn't food supposed to go IN when its a face?

lol, the wapo...the paper that's orbiting uranus

Yes - all of this scientific evidence must be fake since it was covered by the Washington Post. Does it hurt to have your head stuck so deeply up your wazoo?

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