Two New Planets in our Solar System are predicted by Astronomers

New planets in our solar system
At least two unknown planets could exist in our solar system beyond Pluto. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The New Planets in our solar system are the objects which attract people more than anything in the universe. The science community is always excited to know about new planet beyond Pluto. Two research papers published this week show the evidences of two new planets beyond the orbit of Pluto. These planets are expected to be much heavier than the Earth and orbiting the sun from such a large distance that their observation with telescope in nearly impossible. The papers discuss the perturbations in the orbit of objects beyond Neptune and the usual behaviour of orbits indicates the presence of at least two new planets in our solar system.

Researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge have studied the behaviour of the orbits of Extreme Trans Neptunian Objects also called ETNO. ETNO include objects like Pluto, Eris, Makemake, Haumea etc. According to present solar system model, the objects with semi-major axis greater than 150 AU ( AU is the distance between Sun and Earth) and perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) greater than 30 AU are known as Extreme Trans Neptunian objects (ETNO). The inclination of their orbit should be about 0 degree with respect to the plane of orbit of planets and the angle of perihelion should be about 0 or 180 degree. The orbits of these objects should randomly distributed.

The observations of orbits of ETNO are not according to the above properties, the semi-major axis of many of these objects is found to be in range of 150 to 525 AU. The orbit of these objects are also not randomly distributed instead they are found in groups.The average inclination is found to be about 20 degree and the angle of perihelion is about -37 degree which is not even close to 180 degree.

Trans Neptunian objects
This is a photo illustration of the largest known Kuiper Belt objects. Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

“This excess of objects with unexpected orbital parameters makes us believe that some invisible forces are altering the distribution of the orbital elements of the ETNOs, and we consider that the most probable explanation is that other unknown planets exist beyond Neptune and Pluto,” lead author Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, of the Complutense University of Madrid.

“The exact number is uncertain, given that the data that we have is limited, but our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets, and probably more, within the confines of our solar system,” Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, scientist at the UCM and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

The research paper published in ‘Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters’ also discusses the Kozai mechanism relative to Jupiter. Kozai mechanism involves the study of perturbation in orbit of small object due to the gravitational attraction of heavier object present at farther away position. They have studied the effect of gravitational attraction of Jupiter on the orbit of comet 96P/Machholz1. The comet has highly elliptical orbit and will pass the perihelion near the orbit of Mercury in 2017.

They have also looked at newly discovered dwarf planet called 2012 VP113. This is present in the Oort cloud and never comes closer than 30 AU. The orbit of this dwarf planet is also supposed to be under the influence of dark and ice Super-Earth planets heavier than the Earth by 10 times. The orbit of these planets should be more than 250 AU from the Sun.

The presence of massive planets at the distance of 250 AU is not possible according to the present solar system model. The present solar system model predicts that no planets exist beyond the orbit of Neptune. If the above hypothesis confirms then it will change the solar system model.

However, the recent discovery by the ALMA radio telescope of a planet-forming disk more than 100 astronomical units from the star HL Tauri, which is younger than the Sun and more massive, suggests that planets can form several hundred astronomical units away from the centre of the system.

On the other hand, the team recognises that the analysis is based on a sample with few objects (specifically 13), but they point out that in the coming months more results are going to be published, making the sample larger. “If it is confirmed, our results may be truly revolutionary for astronomy,” says de la Fuente Marcos.


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