For a couple of years both science and researchers have been working on a new planet that may be orbiting in our solar system. This planet is supposed to bigger than planet earth and carries more mass. Over the years, astronomers and scientists have given it different names such as Planet X or Planet 9.
Although science and astronomy both have made tremendous progress over the years but Planet X is still out of its reach. Furthermore, the outer solar system is a frontier that humans have just begun to explore. Since Planet X has made quite a few headlines over the years, many people have questioned its existence. In this article, we are going to discuss what Planet X is and what have we been able to debunk until now.
A few years back, Caltech researches were able to come up with mathematical evidence suggesting that it is highly probable that a ‘Planet X’ may be existing in our solar system. This planet in terms of size resembles Neptune and orbits in an elongated way even beyond Pluto. The researchers have estimated that this hypothetical planet may feature mass 10 times that of earth and orbits at least 20 times farther on average from the sun as compared to Neptune. Therefore, considering the mathematical evidence, it may take around 10,000 to 20,000 years for it to complete a full orbit around the sun.
However, this does not confirm the news that Planet X exists. The existence of Planet X only stands limited to hypothetical evidence and mathematical calculations but no direct observation that would at least provide a hint of something astronomers and scientists have been searching for a while. Furthermore, mathematical evidence could only explain the orbits and the time it would take for planets to complete them but when it comes to Planet X, nothing is for sure at the moment.
Where Is Planet X?
As already mentioned, the search for Planet X is not something new. In fact, it goes back nearly 100 years. In 1930, Pluto was discovered but in terms of the size it was too small to cause the gravitational effects associated with Planet X. While the search and hunt for newer planets were put on hold, newer discoveries came to light.
One of the most significant discoveries made was that space beyond Neptune is not empty, rather consists of many elements. As science continued to push and explore the outer frontier of the solar system, scientists stumbled upon a new discovery, designated 2015 TG387. However, the 2015 TG387 does not push the solar system’s frontier forward. Its orbit combined with some other orbits of the newly discovered mini-worlds along the edge of the solar system display curious patterns.
Nicknamed ‘The Goblin’, TG387 is basically a rock that was spotted by the Carnegie Institution of Science while they used a Japanese laboratory called Subaru. It was 2015 when the Carnegie team had first spotted the rock and then continued following for four years around the sun. The team was able to collect very surprising results. First, the TG387 takes around 40,000 years to complete just one orbit around the sun and is a very distant object. Second, it exists on an elliptical path that is far away from the inner solar system.
However, it is not the TG387 that attracts all the attention, it is the orbit. The orbit puts the TG387 in a very selected group of distant solar system objects that point towards the existence of Planet X. At the moment, 14 outer space rocks feature similar orbit patterns, suggesting that Planet X exists. While approaching the sun, these objects cluster together in the same pattern and feature orbits that are tilted and point towards the same direction as well. It is like something big has forced them to settle in similar places by pushing them. At the moment, astronomers hold this as the most significant evidence in the quest of Planet X, and the discovery of TG387 uplifts their hopes, suggesting that Planet X is beyond just being a theory and myth.
Before Caltech researchers worked on finding the planet, astronomers Trujillo and Scott Sheppard at the Carnage Institution for Science found an object in 2012 that was very far from earth. It was called VP113 and currently stands as the most distant object orbiting the sun. Then, in 2015 Caltech researchers did their math and found out that there may be a planet beyond Neptune that features 10 times more mass than the earth.
Since the discovery, newer solar objects have been found that share similar orbit patterns. Astronomers believe that these objects are located in just the right orbits. This is the only way they can survive the wrath of Planet X’s gravitational force. If these objects were to share some other path, it is highly likely that a collision with a big planet would take place or gravity of the big planet would kick them out of the solar system. However, the point is that while orbiting, these extremely far objects never come near to Planet X.
While the search for Planet X continues, it is not possible to ignore TG387 due to its orbit, which is very distant. In fact, its discovery comes as a surprise as well because it is smaller than Pluto but so far off. Since the TG387 is a very distant object, it does not have any influence on large objects existing in the inner solar system. Therefore, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune none, will have any effects on its whatsoever. What this means is that if this object had received Planet X’s battering, it would hold even more information regarding the planet’s orbit as compared to other solar system objects.
In the end, Planet X is nowhere near being a done deal. There are 14 major objects in our solar system along with mathematical calculations that support its existence but physical observation is the most important. The Subaru telescope is probably the best tool available but it has its limitations. Spotting such a far off planet is tough. Since, those after it are confident of its existence, who knows one day we are able to spot it.