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The mysterious object seen decades ago could actually be the ninth planet

The mysterious object seen decades ago could actually be the ninth planet

This is one of the most intriguing questions about the solar system in the past five years: Is there a large planet, lurking in the cold and dark, in an orbit so wide that it might take 20,000 years to complete?

The answer was far-fetched, but a new study reveals what could be traces of the mysterious hypothetical being’s existence.

astronomer Michael Rowan Robinson from Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, analyzed data collected by the Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) in 1983, and found three point sources that may be Planet Nine.

This, as Rowan Robinson concludes in his pre-release article, is unlikely to be an actual discovery, but the possibility means that it could be used to model where the planet might be now for more focused research. Seeking to confirm or deny its existence.

“Because of the poor quality of IRAS discoveries, at the limits of the survey, and in a part of the sky that is too difficult for far-infrared detections, the possibility that the candidate is real is not huge.” books.

“However, given the great interest in the Planet 9 hypothesis, it would be interesting to check whether an object with the proposed parameters and in the proposed sky region, is incompatible with the planetary ephemeris.”

Speculation about the existence of a hidden planet has circulated in the far reaches of the solar system for decades, but reached a new level in 2016 with the publication of an article providing new evidence.

Astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin of the California Institute of Technology have discovered that small objects in the Kuiper Belt of the outer solar system spin strangely in orbit, as if pushed into a pattern under the gravitational influence of something large.

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But finding the wrong thing is more complicated than it seems. If there were, it could be five to ten times the mass of Earth, orbiting around a distance between 400 and 800 AU (one AU is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun; Pluto, for context, about 40 AU from the Sun).

This object is so far away, so small and cold, it probably doesn’t reflect much sunlight at all; Furthermore, we don’t know exactly where he is in the very large sky. So the jury decides whether it is real or not, and the topic is the subject of intense and somewhat interesting debate.

IRAS operated for 10 months from January 1983, with far-infrared scanning of 96 percent of the sky. At this wavelength, cold, small objects like Planet Nine might be detectable, so Rowan Robinson decided to re-analyze the data with parameters compatible with Planet Nine.

from around 250,000 resource points discovered by the satellite, only three of them are of interest as candidates for the ninth planet. In June, July and September 1983, the satellite detected what appeared to be an object moving across the sky.

It’s not a dead testament, by far. The region of the sky in which the source appears is at low galactic latitude (i.e. near the galactic plane), and is strongly influenced by Galactic CyrusFilamentous clouds glow in the far infrared. So it’s possible that the sources are the noise of these clouds.

Rowan Robinson also notes that another highly sensitive survey, the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (pan star), in business since 2008, in restoration candidate.

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However, if we interpret the filter as real, we may extrapolate some information to Planet Nine. According to IRAS data, it is between three and five times the mass of Earth, at an orbital distance of about 225 AU.

The motion of the source across the sky also gives us an idea of ​​the planet’s likely orbit, letting us know where we might look now in the sky and where we can look in other data, such as that from Pan-STARRS. .

“Dynamic studies are needed to verify whether this body is compatible with the ephemeris of other bodies in the solar system and whether this body can explain the clustering of orbits of dwarf planets in the Kuiper belt,” Rowan Robinson writes.

“The IRAS discoveries are not of the highest quality but it may be useful to look at optical and near-infrared wavelengths in a 2.5-4° radius ring centered at the 1983 position. This candidate can be ruled out if radio or other observations confirm the fact ( and static) for IRAS sources at 1983 sites…. “

The article is available on arXiv’s prepress server and has been accepted for publication at Monthly notices from the Royal Astronomical Society.