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  • richardmitnick 9:07 am on May 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Something's Hiding in Our Outer Solar System, , , , But It Might Not Be Planet Nine", , Planet Nine,   

    From Science Alert: “Something’s Hiding in Our Outer Solar System, But It Might Not Be Planet Nine” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    25 MAY 2019
    MICHELLE STARR

    1
    Dwarf planet Sedna, one of the detached TNOs. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    Somewhere in the outer reaches of the Solar System, beyond the orbit of Neptune, something wonky is happening. A few objects are orbiting differently from everything else, and we don’t know why.

    A popular hypothesis is that an unseen object called Planet Nine could be messing with these orbits; astronomers are avidly searching for this planet. But earlier this year physicists came up with an alternative explanation they think is more plausible.

    Instead of one big object, the orbital wobblies could be caused by the combined gravitational force of a number of smaller Kuiper Belt or trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). That’s according to astrophysicists Antranik Sefilian of the University of Cambridge in the UK and Jihad Touma of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

    If it sounds familiar, that’s because Sefilian and Touma are not the first to think of this idea – but their calculations are the first to explain significant features of the strange orbits of these objects, while taking into account the other eight planets in the Solar System.

    A hypothesis for Planet Nine was first announced in a 2016 study. Astronomers studying a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt noticed that several TNOs were “detached” from the strong gravitational influence of the Solar System’s gas giants, and had weird looping orbits that were different from the rest of the Kuiper Belt.

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    But the orbits of these six objects were also clustered together in a way that didn’t appear random; something seemed to have tugged them into that position. According to modelling, a giant, heretofore unseen planet could do so.

    So far, this planet has remained elusive – not necessarily odd, since there are considerable technical challenges to seeing a dark object that far away, especially when we don’t know where it is. But its evasiveness is prompting scientists to seek alternative explanations.

    “The Planet Nine hypothesis is a fascinating one, but if the hypothesised ninth planet exists, it has so far avoided detection,” Sefilian said back in January when their study was released, adding that the team wanted to see if there was a less dramatic explanation of the weird TNO orbits.

    “We thought, rather than allowing for a ninth planet, and then worry about its formation and unusual orbit, why not simply account for the gravity of small objects constituting a disk beyond the orbit of Neptune and see what it does for us?”

    The researchers created a computer model of the detached TNOs, as well as the planets of the Solar System (and their gravity), and a huge disc of debris past Neptune’s orbit.

    By applying tweaks to elements such as the mass, eccentricity and orientation of the disc, the researchers were able to recreate the clustered looping orbits of the detached TNOs.

    “If you remove Planet Nine from the model, and instead allow for lots of small objects scattered across a wide area, collective attractions between those objects could just as easily account for the eccentric orbits we see in some TNOs,” Sefilian said.

    This solves a problem that scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder had when they first floated the collective gravity hypothesis last year. Although their calculations were able to account for the gravitational effect on the detached TNOs, they couldn’t explain why their orbits were all tilting the same way.

    And there’s still another problem with both models: in order to produce the observed effect, the Kuiper Belt needs a collective gravity of at least a few Earth masses.

    Current estimates, however, put the mass of the Kuiper Belt at just 4 to 10 percent of Earth’s mass.

    But, according to Solar System formation models, it should be much higher; and, Sefilian notes, it’s hard to view the entirety of a debris disc around a star when you’re inside it, so it’s possible that there’s a lot more to the Kuiper Belt than we’re able to see.

    “While we don’t have direct observational evidence for the disc, neither do we have it for Planet Nine, which is why we’re investigating other possibilities,” Sefilian said.

    “It’s also possible that both things could be true – there could be a massive disk and a ninth planet. With the discovery of each new TNO, we gather more evidence that might help explain their behaviour.”

    The team’s research was published in The Astronomical Journal.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 11:13 am on January 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American University of Beirut, , , , , Kuiper Belt objects - A few objects are orbiting differently from everything else and we don't know why., Planet Nine, ,   

    From Science Alert: “Something Else Instead of Planet Nine Could Be Hiding in The Outer Solar System” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    21 JAN 2019
    MICHELLE STARR

    1
    Dwarf planet Sedna, one of the detached TNOs. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    Somewhere in the outer reaches of the Solar System, beyond the orbit of Neptune, something wonky is happening. A few objects are orbiting differently from everything else, and we don’t know why.

    A popular hypothesis is that an unseen object called Planet Nine could be messing with these orbits; astronomers are avidly searching for this planet. But now physicists have come up with an alternative explanation they think is more plausible.

    Instead of one big object, the orbital wobblies could be caused by the combined gravitational force of a number of smaller Kuiper Belt or trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). That’s according to astrophysicists Antranik Sefilian of the University of Cambridge in the UK and Jihad Touma of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

    If it sounds familiar, that’s because Sefilian and Touma are not the first to think of this idea – but their calculations are the first to explain significant features of the strange orbits of these objects, while taking into account the other eight planets in the Solar System.

    A hypothesis for Planet Nine was first announced in a 2016 study [The Astronomical Journal]. Astronomers studying a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt noticed that several TNOs were “detached” from the strong gravitational influence of the Solar System’s gas giants, and had weird looping orbits that were different from the rest of the Kuiper Belt.

    But the orbits of these six objects were also clustered together in a way that didn’t appear random; something seemed to have tugged them into that position. According to modelling, a giant, heretofore unseen planet could do so.

    So far, this planet has remained elusive – not necessarily odd, since there are considerable technical challenges to seeing a dark object that far away, especially when we don’t know where it is. But its evasiveness is prompting scientists to seek alternative explanations.

    “The Planet Nine hypothesis is a fascinating one, but if the hypothesised ninth planet exists, it has so far avoided detection,” Sefilian said, adding that the team wanted to see if there was a less dramatic explanation of the weird TNO orbits.

    “We thought, rather than allowing for a ninth planet, and then worry about its formation and unusual orbit, why not simply account for the gravity of small objects constituting a disk beyond the orbit of Neptune and see what it does for us?”

    The researchers created a computer model of the detached TNOs, as well as the planets of the Solar System (and their gravity), and a huge disc of debris past Neptune’s orbit.

    By applying tweaks to elements such as the mass, eccentricity and orientation of the disc, the researchers were able to recreate the clustered looping orbits of the detached TNOs.

    “If you remove Planet Nine from the model, and instead allow for lots of small objects scattered across a wide area, collective attractions between those objects could just as easily account for the eccentric orbits we see in some TNOs,” Sefilian said.

    This solves a problem that scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder had when they first floated the collective gravity hypothesis last year. Although their calculations were able to account for the gravitational effect on the detached TNOs, they couldn’t explain why their orbits were all tilting the same way.

    And there’s still another problem with both models: in order to produce the observed effect, the Kuiper Belt needs a collective gravity of at least a few Earth masses.

    Current estimates, however, put the mass of the Kuiper Belt at just 4 to 10 percent of Earth’s mass.

    But, according to Solar System formation models, it should be much higher; and, Sefilian notes, it’s hard to view the entirety of a debris disc around a star when you’re inside it, so it’s possible that there’s a lot more to the Kuiper Belt than we’re able to see.

    “While we don’t have direct observational evidence for the disc, neither do we have it for Planet Nine, which is why we’re investigating other possibilities,” Sefilian said.

    “It’s also possible that both things could be true – there could be a massive disk and a ninth planet. With the discovery of each new TNO, we gather more evidence that might help explain their behaviour.”

    The team’s research is due to appear in the Astronomical Journal and you can find the pre-print on arXiv.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 11:28 am on July 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Did a Stellar Intruder Deform Our Outer Solar System?, Planet Nine, , Sedna   

    From Scientific American: “Did a Stellar Intruder Deform Our Outer Solar System?” 

    Scientific American

    From Scientific American

    July 23, 2018
    Shannon Hall

    New results suggest a massive star once swung dangerously close to our sun—helping to shape the mysterious features we see today.

    1
    The odd orbit of the dwarf planet Sedna (shown here in an artist’s conceptualization) and other outer solar system objects suggests a visiting star may have swerved too close to the sun long ago. Credit: NASA and JPL-Caltech

    There is a mystery brewing in the far reaches of our solar system.

    Astronomers have long thought the eight planets orbit in nearly perfect circles because they once formed within the swirling disk of dust and gas that surrounded the young sun. But in 2003 scientists discovered something strange: a dwarf planet known as Sedna whose elongated orbit takes it from twice Pluto’s distance to more than 20 times its distance from the sun. And it is not alone. In the years since astronomers have uncovered nearly two dozen distant icy objects whose orbits are oblong and strangely tilted compared to the plane of the solar system. To explain such oddities, scientists speculated that maybe these worlds are scars from a violent past, a sign something—perhaps a passing star—knocked them off course in our solar system’s infancy. Or maybe there is a distant ninth planet whose gravity sculpts their peculiar orbits.

    The latter hypothesis has gained traction over the past several years, leaving the first in the dust, says Susanne Pfalzner, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany. Anomalies in the orbits of some small outer solar system objects have amassed evidence for a “Planet Nine” roughly 10 times Earth’s mass. Meanwhile a stellar interloper has been considered too unlikely—until now. Pfalzner and her colleagues recently published a paper to the preprint server arXiv that has been accepted by The Astrophysical Journal showing stars might buzz our solar system far more often than previously thought. Not only do the results lend credibility to a stellar flyby but they just might also explain how the elusive Planet Nine would have landed in its odd orbit in the first place.

    2
    Effect of a prograde, parabolic fly-by of a star with a) M=0.5 M, b) M2= 1, Mand c) M2= 5 Mthat is inclined by 60 degree and has a angle of periastron equal zero. The perihelion distance is always chosen in such a way as to lead to a 30-35 AU disc. The top row indicates the eccentricity distribution of the matter with a central area of most particles on circular orbits and more eccentric orbits at larger distances form the Sun. The eccentricities are indicated by the different colours given in the bar. The origin of the different eccentricity populations in the original disc can be seen in bottom row, where matter indicated in grey becomes unbound from the Sun. Note that in c) the path of the perturber is not visible because it is outside the shown frame. Credit: arXiv:1807.02960 [astro-ph.GA]

    Astronomers know the sun has not always been so solitary. It was born within a cluster of hundreds to perhaps tens of thousands of stars that dispersed only 10 million years later. So while the sun was still entombed within that cluster, stars would have rocked to and fro in a dizzying dance that easily could have brought one waltzing into our nascent solar system. But after the cluster broke apart the likelihood of such an encounter dropped nearly to zero, or so the thinking went. But Pfalzner and her colleagues now argue the odds of an encounter remained quite high after the cluster had started to disperse. After many long computer simulations they found there is a 20 to 30 percent chance a star perhaps as massive as the sun would swing nearly as close as Pluto at 50 to 150 astronomical units. (One AU is the mean distance from Earth to the sun, or 93 million miles.) And there is no doubt such a close approach would surely shake our young solar system.

    Although the large planets would remain unbothered (much like the sun is only slightly jostled by the minor gravities of the eight planets), the encounter would perturb the solar system’s smaller objects—tossing them around and placing them in odd orbits in the distant reaches of the solar system. What is more: the simulations also re-created a second trend astronomers have observed in the solar system, that outer objects tend to cluster together in space. They travel together in tight-knit groups that all cross the plane of the solar system at roughly the same spot before swinging outward to the same distant point. In short, simulations including a stellar interloper can perfectly re-create the observations to date. “But whether they’ll last for 4.5 billion years” or over the solar system’s entire life span, “is the million-dollar question,” says Scott Kenyon, an astronomer at Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who was not involved in the research. And Pfalzner agrees. She would like to model the long-term behavior next to see whether those changes will hold over the solar system’s entire lifetime. It could be that a flyby clusters objects for a cosmic moment before they randomize again. If that is the case, then a planet is the best explanation for the observations.

    Scientists are eagerly tracking down more data with a number of different observing campaigns. A handful of teams, for example, are already scouring large chunks of the heavens in search of more oddities in the outer solar system. Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science who was not involved in the study, cannot contain his excitement over the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope—an 8.4-meter-wide scope that will likely uncover hundreds of new solar system rocks.

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    “That’s really going to open up the floodgates for trying to discover these distant objects,” he says.

    Meanwhile Kenyon is hopeful the Gaia spacecraft, which is in the process of charting one billion stars to unprecedented accuracy, will help find our sun’s long-lost siblings.

    ESA/GAIA satellite

    That will allow scientists to better understand the stellar cluster in which our young solar system formed, along with the likelihood another star zoomed too close. “Gaia is the new savior on the block,” he says. A recent Gaia study even traced the paths of nearby stars into the past and projected those paths into the future, only to find that 25 stars speed dangerously close to home over a 10-million-year time period. That tally is seven times as much nearby stellar traffic as previously thought. Then, of course, there are a number of surveys searching for the elusive Planet Nine itself.

    But Pfalzner argues the discovery of another major member of the solar system will not rule out a stellar flyby. “It’s not an either–or scenario,” she says. “If Planet Nine exists, this would not be in any way a contradiction to the flyby model, but possibly even a point in favor for it.” Her team argues Planet Nine’s predicted orbit, which is also both eccentric (stretched out) and inclined (tilted from the solar system’s plane), was likely shaped by the stellar interloper itself. So she and others will continue to hunt for both Planet Nine and further oddities.

    And although astronomers might disagree over the specifics of our solar system’s origin story, they are all certain the treasure trove of objects already discovered in the outer solar system is only the beginning. Sedna was the tip of the iceberg, Sheppard says. “There’s just so much sky we haven’t covered to date that it’s more likely than not there’s something pretty big out there.”

    See the full article here .

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    Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., has been bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technology for more than 160 years.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:27 pm on May 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Planet Nine,   

    From Quanta Magazine: “A New World’s Extraordinary Orbit Points to Planet Nine” 

    Quanta Magazine
    From Quanta Magazine

    May 15, 2018
    Shannon Hall

    Astronomers argue that there’s an undiscovered giant planet far beyond the orbit of Neptune. A newly discovered rocky body has added evidence to the circumstantial case for it.

    1
    Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine

    In early 2016, two planetary scientists declared that a ghost planet is hiding in the depths of the solar system, well beyond the orbit of Pluto. Their claim, which they made based on the curious orbits of distant icy worlds, quickly sparked a race to find this so-called Planet Nine — a planet that is estimated to be about 10 times the mass of Earth. “It has a real magnetism to it,” said Gregory Laughlin, an astronomer at Yale University. “I mean, finding a 10-Earth-mass planet in our own solar system would be a discovery of unrivaled scientific magnitude.”

    Now, astronomers are reporting [The Astronomical Journal] that they have spotted another distant world — perhaps as large as a dwarf planet — whose orbit is so odd that it is likely to have been shepherded by Planet Nine.

    The Extreme Trans-Neptunian object orbits
    2
    6 original and 8 new TNO object orbits with current positions near their perihelion in purple, with hypothetical Planet Nine orbit in green. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_Nine. No image credit found.

    The object confirms a specific prediction made by Konstantin Batygin and Michael Brown, the astronomers at the California Institute of Technology who first argued for Planet Nine’s existence. “It’s not proof that Planet Nine exists,” said David Gerdes, an astronomer at the University of Michigan and a co-author on the new paper. “But I would say the presence of an object like this in our solar system bolsters the case for Planet Nine.”

    3
    Lucy Reading-Ikkanda/Quanta Magazine

    Gerdes and his colleagues spotted the new object in data from the Dark Energy Survey, a project that probes the acceleration in the expansion of the universe by surveying a region well above the plane of the solar system.

    Dark Energy Survey


    Dark Energy Camera [DECam], built at FNAL


    NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile, housing DECam

    This makes it an unlikely tool for finding objects inside the solar system, since they mostly orbit within the plane. But that is exactly what makes the new object unique: Its orbit is tilted 54 degrees with respect to the plane of the solar system. It’s something Gerdes did not expect to see. Batygin and Brown, however, predicted it.

    Two years ago, Batygin and Brown made a case [The Astronomical Journal] for Planet Nine’s existence based on the peculiar orbits of a handful of distant worlds known as Kuiper belt objects.

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    That small population loops outward toward the same quadrant of the solar system, a phenomenon that would be extremely unlikely to happen by chance. Batygin and Brown argued that a ninth planet must be shepherding those worlds into their strange orbits.

    What’s more, Batygin and Brown also predicted that over time, Planet Nine’s gravity would push these Kuiper belt objects out of their current plane and into ever-higher orbital inclinations. Although astronomers have already spotted a bizarre population of worlds that orbit the sun perpendicularly to the plane of the solar system, they had never caught an object transitioning between the two populations. “There’s no real way to put something on an orbit like that — except that it’s exactly what we predicted from Planet Nine,” Brown said. Batygin notes that the new object fits so perfectly with their model that it almost looks like one of the data points in their simulations. “A good theory reproduces data — but a great theory predicts new data,” he said.

    The Dark Energy Survey first detected evidence for the new object in late 2014. Gerdes and his colleagues have spent the years since then tracking its orbit and trying to understand its origins. In the new paper, they describe how they ran many simulations of the object within the known solar system, letting the clock run forward and backward 4.5 billion years at a time. Nothing could explain how the object landed in such a tilted orbit. It wasn’t until they added in a ninth planet — a planet with characteristics that perfectly match Batygin and Brown’s predictions — that the wacky orbit finally made sense. “The second you put Planet Nine in the simulations, not only can you form objects like this object, but you absolutely do,” said Juliette Becker, a graduate student at Michigan and the lead author on the new paper. A strong and sustained interaction with Planet Nine appears to be the only way to pump up the object’s inclination, pushing it away from the plane of the solar system. “There is no other reasonable way to populate the Kuiper belt with such highly inclined bodies,” Batygin said. “I think the case for the existence of Planet Nine is now genuinely excellent.”

    Other astronomers aren’t so certain — in part because the early solar system remains a mystery. Scientists suspect that the sun was born within a cluster of stars, meaning that the early planets might have had many close encounters with other stars that sent them on paths that seem impossible today. And even once the stars dispersed, the early solar system likely contained tens of thousands of dwarf planets that could have provided the gravitational nudges needed to push 2015 BP519, as the new object is called, into such an odd orbit. “To me, Planet Nine is one of a number of ways that the solar system could have unfolded,” said Michele Bannister, an astronomer at Queen’s University Belfast who was not involved in the study. “It’s a potential idea.” But at the moment it is just that — an idea.

    Yet when astronomers examine the larger universe, the idea doesn’t seem all that surprising. Planets between two and 10 times the mass of Earth are incredibly common throughout the galaxy, which makes it odd that our solar system doesn’t harbor one. “If it wasn’t in our own solar system — if the stakes weren’t so high — I think that the hypothesis would almost certainly be correct,” Laughlin said. “It’s only the fact that it’s so amazing that tends to give me pause.” Finding a ninth planet within our solar system would be both transformative and extraordinarily inspiring, he said. “It would be this dramatic confirmation of the scientific method, which would be pretty refreshing in the current age where the truth is on trial.”

    See the full article here .

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    Formerly known as Simons Science News, Quanta Magazine is an editorially independent online publication launched by the Simons Foundation to enhance public understanding of science. Why Quanta? Albert Einstein called photons “quanta of light.” Our goal is to “illuminate science.” At Quanta Magazine, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story. All of our articles are meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:43 am on September 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Planet Nine,   

    From Universe Today: “New Study Indicates that Planet 9 Likely Formed in the Solar System” 

    universe-today

    Universe Today

    17 Sept , 2017
    Matt Williams

    1
    Artist’s impression of Planet Nine, blocking out the Milky Way. The Sun is in the distance, with the orbit of Neptune shown as a ring. Credit: ESO/Tomruen/nagualdesign

    In January of 2016, astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin published the first evidence that there might be another planet in our Solar System. Known as “Planet 9”, this hypothetical body was believed to orbit at an extreme distance from our Sun. Since that time, multiple studies have been produced that have had tried to address the all-important question of where Planet 9 could have come from.

    Whereas some studies have suggested that the planet moved to the edge of the Solar System after forming closer to the Sun, others have suggested that it might be an exoplanet that was captured early in the Solar System’s history. A recent study by a team of astronomers has cast doubt on this latter possibility, however, and indicates that Planet 9 likely formed closer to the Sun and migrated outward during its history.

    Their study, titled Was Planet 9 Captured in the Sun’s Natal Star-Forming Region?, recently appeared in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The team was led by Dr. Richard Parker from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, with colleagues from ETH Zürich. Together, they conducted simulations that cast doubt on the “capture” scenario.

    2
    The six most distant known objects in the solar system with orbits exclusively beyond Neptune (magenta) all mysteriously line up in a single direction. Credit: Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC); [Diagram created using WorldWide Telescope.]

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 11:20 am on July 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Planet Nine,   

    From Science Alert: “We Now Have More Evidence For The Existence of Planet Nine…” 

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    1
    Artist’s rendering of a Jupiter-sized lonely planet. NASA/JPL

    18 JUL 2017
    MATT WILLIAMS

    …And maybe even Planet Ten?

    In January of 2016, astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin published the first evidence that there might be another planet in our Solar System.

    Known as “Planet 9”, this hypothetical body was estimated to be about 10 times as massive as Earth and to orbit that our Sun at an average distance of 700 AU. Since that time, multiple studies have been produced that either support or cast doubt on the existence of Planet 9.

    While some argue that the orbits of certain Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) are proof of Planet 9, others argue that these studies suffer from an observational bias.

    The latest study [MNRAS], which comes from a pair of astronomers from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), offers a fresh perspective that could settle the debate.

    Using a new technique that focuses on extreme TNOs (ETNOs), they believe the case for Planet 9 can be made.

    Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects are those that orbit our Sun at average distances greater than 150 AU, and therefore never cross Neptune’s orbit.

    As the UMC team indicate in their study [see above], which was recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the distances between the ETNOs nodes and the Sun may point the way towards Planet 9.

    These nodes are the two points at which the orbit of a celestial body crosses the plane of the Solar System. It is at these points that the chances of interacting with other bodies in the Solar System is the greatest, and hence where ETNOs are most likely to experience a drastic change in their orbits (or a collision).

    By measuring where these nodes are, the team believed they could tell if the ETNOs are being perturbed by another object in the area.

    As Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, one of the authors on the study, explained in an interview with The Information and Scientific News Service (SINC):

    “If there is nothing to perturb them, the nodes of these extreme trans-Neptunian objects should be uniformly distributed, as there is nothing for them to avoid, but if there are one or more perturbers, two situations may arise.

    One possibility is that the ETNOs are stable, and in this case they would tend to have their nodes away from the path of possible perturbers, he adds, but if they are unstable they would behave as the comets that interact with Jupiter do, that is tending to have one of the nodes close to the orbit of the hypothetical perturber”.

    For the sake of their research, Doctors Carlos and Raul de la Fuente Marcos conducted calculations and data mining to analyse the nodes of 28 ETNOs and 24 extreme Centaurs (which also orbit the Sun at average distances of more than 150 AUs).

    What they noticed was that these two populations became clustered at certain distances from the Sun, and also noted a correlation between the positions of the nodes and the inclination of the objects.

    This latter find was especially unexpected, and led them to conclude that the orbits of these populations were being affected by the presence of another body – much in the same way that the orbits of comets within our Solar System have been found to be affected by the way they interact with Jupiter.

    As De la Fuente Marcos emphasised:

    “Assuming that the ETNOs are dynamically similar to the comets that interact with Jupiter, we interpret these results as signs of the presence of a planet that is actively interacting with them in a range of distances from 300 to 400 AU.

    We believe that what we are seeing here cannot be attributed to the presence of observational bias”.

    As already mentioned, previous studies that have challenged the existence of Planet 9 cited how the study of TNOs have suffered from an observational bias.

    Basically, they have claimed that these studies made systematic errors in how they calculated the orientations in the orbits of TNOs, in large part because they had all been directed towards the same region of the sky.

    By looking at the nodal distances of ETNOs, which depend on the size and shape of their orbits, this most recent study offers the first evidence of Planet 9’s existence that is relatively free of this bias.

    At the moment, only 28 ETNOs are known, but the authors are confident that the discovery of more – and the analysis of their nodes – will confirm their observations and place further constraints on the orbit of Planet 9.

    In addition, the pair of astronomers offered some thoughts on recent work that has suggested the possible existence of a Planet 10.

    While their study does not take into account the existence of a Mars-sized body – which is said to be responsible for an observable “warp” in the Kuiper Belt – they acknowledge that there is compelling evidence that such a planet-sized body exists.

    As de la Fuente Marcos said:

    “Given the current definition of planet, this other mysterious object may not be a true planet, even if it has a size similar to that of the Earth, as it could be surrounded by huge asteroids or dwarf planets.

    In any case, we are convinced that Volk and Malhotra’s work has found solid evidence of the presence of a massive body beyond the so-called Kuiper Cliff, the furthest point of the trans-Neptunian belt, at some 50 AU from the Sun, and we hope to be able to present soon a new work which also supports its existence”.

    It seems that the outer Solar System is getting more crowded with every passing year.

    And these planets, if and when they are confirmed, are likely to trigger another debate about which Solar bodies are rightly designated as planets and which ones aren’t.

    If you thought the “planetary debate” was controversial and divisive before, I recommend staying away from astronomy forums in the coming years!

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 7:17 am on April 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Planet Nine   

    From ANU: “ANU leads citizen search for new planet in Solar System” 

    ANU Australian National University Bloc

    Australian National University

    27 March 2017

    1
    U Manchester Professor Brian Cox and ANU astronomer Dr. Brad Tucker. Credit: NASA

    2
    Courtesy Caltech / R. Hurt (IPAC)

    Four Candidates For Planet 9 Located

    ANU is launching a search for a new planet in our Solar System, inviting anyone around the world with access to the Internet to help make the historic discovery.

    A concentrated three-day search for a mysterious, unseen planet in the far reaches of our own solar system has yielded four possible candidates. The search for the so-called Planet 9 was part of a real-time search with a Zooniverse citizen science project, in coordination with the BBC’s Stargazing Live broadcast from the Australian National University’s Siding Spring Observatory.

    Researcher Brad Tucker from ANU, who led the effort, said about 60,000 people from around the world classified over four million objects during the three days, using data from the SkyMapper telescope at Siding Spring.



    ANU Skymapper telescope, a fully automated 1.35 m (4.4 ft) wide-angle optical telescope at Siding Spring Observatory , near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia

    He and his team said that even if none of the four candidates turn out to be the hypothetical Planet 9, the effort was scientifically valuable, helping to verify their search methods as exceptionally viable.

    “We’ve detected minor planets Chiron and Comacina, which demonstrates the approach we’re taking could find Planet 9 if it’s there,” Tucker said. “We’ve managed to rule out a planet about the size of Neptune being in about 90 per cent of the southern sky out to a depth of about 350 times the distance the Earth is from the Sun.

    3
    SAMI, a new multi-object integral field spectrograph at Siding Spring Observatory, which was used to look for the hypothetical Planet 9. Credit: Dilyar Barat via Twitter.

    (Universe Today)

    Anyone who helps find the so-called Planet 9 will work with ANU astronomers to validate the discovery through the International Astronomical Union.

    3
    Researchers from Australian National University pose with BBC astronomers Chris Lintott, Brian Cox and Dara O’Brien. Credit: ANU.

    ANU astrophysicist Dr Brad Tucker is leading the project, which is being launched by Professor Brian Cox during a BBC Stargazing Live broadcast from the ANU Siding Spring Observatory.

    “We have the potential to find a new planet in our Solar System that no human has ever seen in our two-million-year history,” said Dr Tucker from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

    Dr Tucker said astronomers had long discussed the likelihood of a ninth planet on the outer edges of the Solar System, but nothing had been found yet.

    “Planet 9 is predicted to be a super Earth, about 10 times the mass and up to four times the size of our planet. It’s going to be cold and far away, and about 800 times the distance between Earth and the sun. It’s pretty mysterious,” he said.

    The ANU project will allow citizen scientists to use a website to search hundreds of thousands of images taken by the ANU SkyMapper telescope at Siding Spring.

    SkyMapper will take 36 images of each part of the southern sky, which is relatively unexplored, and identify changes occurring within the Universe.

    Finding Planet 9 involves citizen volunteers scanning the SkyMapper images online to look for differences, Dr Tucker said.

    “It’s actually not that complicated to find Planet 9. It really is spot the difference. Then you just click on the image, mark what is different and we’ll take care of the rest,” Dr Tucker said.

    He said he expected people to also find and identify other mystery objects in space, including asteroids, comets and dwarf planets like Pluto.

    “If you find an asteroid or dwarf planet, you can’t actually name it after yourself,” Dr Tucker said.

    “But you could name it after your wife, brother or sister. We need to follow all of the rules set by the International Astronomical Union.”

    Dr Tucker said modern computers could not match the passion of millions of people.

    “It will be through all our dedication that we can find Planet 9 and other things that move in space,” he said.

    Co-researcher and Head of SkyMapper Dr Chris Wolf said SkyMapper was the only telescope in the world that maps the whole southern sky.

    “Whatever is hiding there that you can’t see from the north, we will find it,” Dr Wolf said.

    From 28 to 30 March at 8pm London time, BBC Stargazing Live hosted by Professor Cox and comedian Dara O Briain is expected to be viewed by around five million people.

    The ABC [Australian, not U.S.] will broadcast an Australian Stargazing Live program from Siding Spring from 4 to 6 April, hosted by Professor Cox and Julia Zemiro.

    SkyMapper is a 1.3-metre telescope that is creating a full record of the southern sky for Australian astronomers.

    People can to participate in the ANU citizen science project to search for Planet 9 at http://www.planet9search.org

    See the full article here .

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    ANU Campus

    ANU is a world-leading university in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. Our location points to our unique history, ties to the Australian Government and special standing as a resource for the Australian people.

    Our focus on research as an asset, and an approach to education, ensures our graduates are in demand the world-over for their abilities to understand, and apply vision and creativity to addressing complex contemporary challenges.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:59 am on February 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Extreme trans Neptunian objects (ETNOs), , Planet Nine, The visible spectrum can give some information also about their composition   

    From IAC: “New data about two distant asteroids give a clue to the possible ‘Planet Nine'” 

    IAC

    Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC

    Feb. 17, 2017
    Julia de León (IAC):
    jmlc@iac.es
    +39922425717

    1
    No image caption. No image credit
    The dynamical properties of these asteroids, observed spectroscopiccally for the first time using the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, suggest a possible common origin and give a clue to the existence of a planet beyond Pluto, the so-called “Planet Nine”.

    In the year 2000 the first of a new class of distant solar system objects was discovered, orbiting the Sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune: the “extreme trans Neptunian objects (ETNOs). Their orbits are very far from the Sun compared with that of the Earth. We orbit the Sun at a mean distance of one astronomical unit (1 AU which is 150 million kilometres) but the ETNOs orbit at more than 150 AU. To give an idea of how far away they are, Pluto’s orbit is at around 40 AU and its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) is at 30 AU. This discovery marked a turning point in Solar System studies, and up to now, a total of 21 ETNOs have been identified.

    Recently, a number of studies have suggested that the dynamical parameters of the ETNOs could be better explained if there were one or more planets with masses several times that of the Earth orbiting the Sun at distances of hundreds of AU. In particular, in 2016 the researchers Brown and Batygin used the orbits of seven ETNOs to predict the existence of a “superearth” orbiting the sun at some 700 AU. This range of masses is termed sub Neptunian. This idea is referred to as the Planet Nine Hypothesis and is one of the current subjects of interest in planetary science. However, because the objects are so far away the light we receive from them is very weak and until now the only one of the 21 trans Neptunian objects observed spectroscopically was Sedna.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in collaboration with the Complutense University of Madrid has taken a step towards the physical characterization of these bodies, and to confirm or refute the hypothesis of Planet Nine by studying them. The scientists have made the first spectroscopic observations of 2004 VN112 and 2013 RF98, both of them particularly interesting dynamically because their orbits are almost identical and the poles of the orbits are separated by a very small angle. This suggest a common origin, and their present-day orbits could be the result of a past interaction with the hypothetical Planet Nine. This study, recently published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggests that this pair of ETNOs was a binary asteroid which separated after an encounter with a planet beyond the orbit of Pluto.

    To reach these conclusions, they made the first spectroscopic observations of 2004 VN112 and 2013 RF98 in the visible range. These were performed in collaboration with the support astronomers Gianluca Lombardi and Ricardo Scarpa, using the OSIRIS spectrograph on the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC), situated in the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Plama). It was hard work to identify these asteroids because their great distance means that their apparent movement on the sky is very slow. Then, they measured their apparent magnitudes (their brightness as seen from Earth) and also recalculated the orbit of 2013 RF98, which had been poorly determined. They found this object at a distance of more than an arcminute away from the position predicted from the ephemerides. These observations have helped to improve the computed orbit, and have been published by the Minor Planet Center (MPEC 2016-U18: 2013 RF98), the organism responsible for the identification of comets and minor planets (asteroids) as well as for measurements of their parameters and orbital positions.

    The visible spectrum can give some information also about their composition. By measuring the slope of the spectrum, can be determined whether they have pure ices on their surfaces, as is the case for Pluto, as well as highly processed carbon compounds. The spectrum can also indicate the possible presence of amorphous silicates, as in the Trojan asteroids associated with Jupiter. The values obtained for 2004 VN112 and 2013 RF98 are almost identical and similar to those observed photometrically for two other ETNOs, 2000 CR105 and 2012 VP113. Sedna, however, the only one of these objects which had been previously observed spectroscopically, shows very different values from the others. These five objects are part of the group of seven used to test the hypothesis of Planet Nine, which suggests that all of them should have a common origin, except for Sedna, which is thought to have come from the inner part of the Oort cloud.

    “The similar spectral gradients observed for the pair 2004 VN112 – 2013 RF98 suggests a common physical origin”, explains Julia de León, the first author of the paper, an astrophysicist at the IAC. “We are proposing the possibility that they were previously a binary asteroid which became unbound during an encounter with a more massive object”. To validate this hypothesis, the team performed thousands of numerical simulations to see how the poles of the orbits would separate as time went on. The results of these simulations suggest that a possible Planet Nine, with a mass of between 10 and 20 Earth masses orbiting the Sun at a distance between 300 and 600 AU could have deviated the pair 2004 VN112 – 2013 RF98 around 5 and 10 million years ago. This could explain, in principle, how these two asteroids, starting as a pair orbiting one another, became gradually separated in their orbits because they made an approach to a much more massive object at a particular moment in time.

    Article: Visible spectra of (474640) 2004 VN112 – 2013 RF98 with OSIRIS at the 10.4m GTC: evidence for binary dissociation near aphelion among the extreme trans-Neptunian objects, by Julia de León, Carlos de la Fuente Marcos and Raúl de la Fuente Marcos. Published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnrasl/slx003

    See the full article here.

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    The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

    The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
    The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
    The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).
    The Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), in Garafía (La Palma).

    These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

    The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

    The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

    The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

    The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

    The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teachingand outreachactivities.

    The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.

    Gran Telescopio  Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain
    Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC

     
  • richardmitnick 8:43 am on February 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Planet Nine,   

    From UC Berkeley: “UC Berkeley, NASA looking for citizen scientists to help find Planet 9” 

    UC Berkeley

    UC Berkeley

    February 15, 2017
    Robert Sanders
    rlsanders@berkeley.edu

    1
    A previously cataloged brown dwarf named WISE 0855−0714 shows up as a moving
    orange dot (upper left) in this loop of WISE images spanning five years. By viewing
    movies like this, anyone can help discover more brown dwarfs or even a 9th planet. (NASA/WISE images)

    Elusive planets and dim failed stars may be lurking around the edges of our solar system, and astronomers from NASA and UC Berkeley want the public’s help to hunt them down.

    Through a new website called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, anyone can now help search for objects far beyond the orbit of our farthest planet, Neptune, by viewing brief “flipbook” movies made from images captured by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. A faint spot seen moving through background stars might be a new and distant planet orbiting the sun or a nearby brown dwarf.

    NASA/WISE Telescope
    NASA/WISE Telescope

    WISE’s infrared images cover the entire sky about six times over. This has allowed astronomers to search the images for faint, glowing objects that change position over time, which means they are relatively close to Earth. Objects that produce their own faint infrared glow would have to be large, Neptune-size planets or brown dwarfs, which are slightly smaller than stars.

    UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher Aaron Meisner, a physicist who specializes in analyzing WISE images, has automated the search using computers, but he jumped at the idea by NASA astronomer Marc Kuchner to ask the public to eyeball the millions of WISE images. NASA and its collaborators, including UC Berkeley, are launching the planet and brown dwarf search Feb. 15.

    “Automated searches don’t work well in some regions of the sky, like the plane of the Milky Way galaxy, because there are too many stars, which confuses the search algorithm,” said Meisner, who last month published the results of an automated survey of 5 percent of the WISE data, which revealed no new objects. Online volunteers “using the powerful ability of the human brain to recognize motion” may be luckier, he said.

    “Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 has the potential to unlock once-in-a-century discoveries, and it’s exciting to think they could be spotted first by a citizen scientist,” he added.

    “There are just over four light-years between Neptune, the farthest known planet in our solar system, and Proxima Centauri, the nearest star, and much of this vast territory is unexplored,” said Kuchner, the lead researcher and an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima 27, February 2012. Skatebiker
    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima 27, February 2012. Skatebiker

    “Because there’s so little sunlight, even large objects in that region barely shine in visible light. But by looking in the infrared, WISE may have imaged objects we otherwise would have missed.”

    Planet 9

    People have long theorized about unknown planets far beyond Neptune and the dwarf planet Pluto, but until recently there was no evidence to support the idea. Last year, however, Caltech astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin found indirect evidence for the existence of an as-yet-unseen ninth planet in the solar system’s outer reaches. This “Planet 9” would be similar in size to Neptune, but up to a thousand times farther from the sun than Earth, and would orbit the sun perhaps once every 15,000 years. It would be so faint as to have so far evaded discovery.


    Video courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.

    At the moment, the existence of Planet 9 is still under debate. Meisner thinks it’s more likely that volunteers will find brown dwarfs in the solar neighborhood. While Planet 9 would look very blue in WISE time-lapse animations, brown dwarfs would look very red and move across the sky more slowly.

    WISE images have already turned up hundreds of previously unknown brown dwarfs, including the sun’s third- and fourth-closest known neighbors. He hopes that the Backyard Worlds search will turn up a new nearest neighbor to our sun.

    “We’ve pre-processed the WISE data we’re presenting to citizen scientists in such a way that even the faintest moving objects can be detected, giving us an advantage over all previous searches,” Meisner said. Moving objects flagged by participants will be prioritized by the science team for later follow-up observations by professional astronomers. Participants will share credit for their discoveries in any scientific publications that result from the project.

    2
    A very blue Neptune-like planet, dubbed Planet 9, may be lurking dozens of times further from the sun than Pluto, as depicted in this artist’s rendering. Citizen scientists who join the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project may be the first to spot it. (NASA image)

    WISE and NEOWISE

    The WISE telescope scanned the entire sky between 2010 and 2011, producing the most comprehensive survey at mid-infrared wavelengths currently available. With the completion of its primary mission, WISE was shut down in 2011, then reactivated in 2013 and given a new mission: assisting NASA’s efforts to identify potentially hazardous near-Earth objects, which are asteroids and comets in the vicinity of our planet. The mission was renamed the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE).

    The new website uses all of the WISE and NEOWISE data to search for unknown objects in and beyond our own solar system, including the putative Planet 9. If Planet 9 exists and is as bright as some predict, it could show up in WISE data.

    Meisner said WISE is uniquely suited for discovering extremely cold brown dwarfs, which can be invisible to the biggest ground-based telescopes despite being very close.

    “Brown dwarfs form like stars but evolve like planets, and the coldest ones are much like Jupiter,” said team member Jackie Faherty, an astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. “By using Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, the public can help us discover more of these strange rogue worlds.”

    Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 is a collaboration between NASA, UC Berkeley, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Arizona State University, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and Zooniverse, a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators that collectively develops and manages citizen-science projects on the internet. Zooniverse will spread the word among its many citizen volunteers

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages and operates WISE, part of NASA’s Explorers Program.

    Meisner, who specializes in creating high-resolution maps of the universe, is also currently working on the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, a project at Lawrence Berkeley National laboratory that seeks to learn how mysterious dark energy affects the expansion of the universe.

    LBNL/DESI spectroscopic instrument on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory starting in 2018
    LBNL/DESI spectroscopic instrument on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory starting in 2018

    Follow Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 on Facebook or Twitter, @backyardworlds.

    RELATED INFORMATION

    Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Zooniverse Project
    Searching for Planet Nine with Coadded WISE and NEOWISE-Reactivation Images
    FindPlanetNine Blog [link did not work]

    See the full article here .

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    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

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  • richardmitnick 3:59 pm on October 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Curious Tilt of the Sun Traced to Undiscovered Planet, Planet Nine   

    From Caltech: “Curious Tilt of the Sun Traced to Undiscovered Planet” 

    Caltech Logo
    Caltech

    10/19/2016

    Robert Perkins
    (626) 395-1862
    rperkins@caltech.edu

    1
    This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. The planet is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side. Credit: Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC).

    Planet Nine—the undiscovered planet at the edge of the Solar System that was predicted by the work of Caltech’s Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown in January 2016—appears to be responsible for the unusual tilt of the sun, according to a new study.

    The large and distant planet may be adding a wobble to the solar system, giving the appearance that the sun is tilted slightly.

    “Because Planet Nine is so massive and has an orbit tilted compared to the other planets, the solar system has no choice but to slowly twist out of alignment,” says Elizabeth Bailey, a graduate student at Caltech and lead author of a study announcing the discovery.

    All of the planets orbit in a flat plane with respect to the sun, roughly within a couple degrees of each other. That plane, however, rotates at a six-degree tilt with respect to the sun—giving the appearance that the sun itself is cocked off at an angle. Until now, no one had found a compelling explanation to produce such an effect. “It’s such a deep-rooted mystery and so difficult to explain that people just don’t talk about it,” says Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy.

    Brown and Batygin’s discovery of evidence that the sun is orbited by an as-yet-unseen planet—that is about 10 times the size of Earth with an orbit that is about 20 times farther from the sun on average than Neptune’s—changes the physics. Planet Nine, based on their calculations, appears to orbit at about 30 degrees off from the other planets’ orbital plane—in the process, influencing the orbit of a large population of objects in the Kuiper Belt, which is how Brown and Batygin came to suspect a planet existed there in the first place.

    “It continues to amaze us; every time we look carefully we continue to find that Planet Nine explains something about the solar system that had long been a mystery,” says Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science.

    Their findings have been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal, and will be presented on October 18 at the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences annual meeting, held in Pasadena.

    The tilt of the solar system’s orbital plane has long befuddled astronomers because of the way the planets formed: as a spinning cloud slowly collapsing first into a disk and then into objects orbiting a central star.

    Planet Nine’s angular momentum is having an outsized impact on the solar system based on its location and size. A planet’s angular momentum equals the mass of an object multiplied by its distance from the sun, and corresponds with the force that the planet exerts on the overall system’s spin. Because the other planets in the solar system all exist along a flat plane, their angular momentum works to keep the whole disk spinning smoothly.

    Planet Nine’s unusual orbit, however, adds a multi-billion-year wobble to that system. Mathematically, given the hypothesized size and distance of Planet Nine, a six-degree tilt fits perfectly, Brown says.

    The next question, then, is how did Planet Nine achieve its unusual orbit? Though that remains to be determined, Batygin suggests that the planet may have been ejected from the neighborhood of the gas giants by Jupiter, or perhaps may have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other stellar bodies in the solar system’s extreme past.

    For now, Brown and Batygin continue to work with colleagues throughout the world to search the night sky for signs of Planet Nine along the path they predicted in January. That search, Brown says, may take three years or more.

    See the full article here .

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    Caltech campus
    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

     
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