June 15, 2016

New calculations suggest there could be not one but three more new planets in the solar system

A new astronomical study lead researchers to suggest the most stable scenario is one in which there is not just one new planet in the solar system, but rather several more beyond Pluto.

Orbital observations and calculations by Caltech astronomers suggested there is a Planet Nine. The theoretical 'Planet Nine' is believed to be 10 times the mass of Earth, and takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to orbit the sun.

According to this new study, also based on numerical (N-body) simulations, the orbit of the new planet proposed by Batygin and Brown would have to be modified slightly so that the orbits of the six ETNOs analysed would be really stable for a long time.

These results also lead to a new question: Are the ETNOs a transient and unstable population or, on the contrary, are they permanent and stable? The fact that these objects behave in one way or another affects the evolution of their orbits and also the numerical modelling.

“If the ETNOs are transient, they are being continuously ejected and must have a stable source located beyond 1,000 astronomical units (in the Oort cloud) where they come from”, notes Carlos de la Fuente Marcos. “But if they are stable in the long term, then there could be many in similar orbits although we have not observed them yet”.

The stable movement of the asteroids may be the result of the gravitational pull of two or more undiscovered planets. Planet 9 and the two new planets have not actually been discovered, but are based on predictions resulting from scientific observations.

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters - Dynamical impact of the Planet Nine scenario: N-body experiments

The Planet Nine hypothesis has now enough constraints to deserve further attention in the form of detailed numerical experiments. The results of such studies can help us improve our understanding of the dynamical effects of such a hypothetical object on the extreme trans-Neptunian objects or ETNOs and perhaps provide additional constraints on the orbit of Planet Nine itself. Here, we present the results of direct N-body calculations including the latest data available on the Planet Nine conjecture. The present-day orbits of the six ETNOs originally linked to the hypothesis are evolved backwards in time and into the future under some plausible incarnations of the hypothesis to investigate if the values of several orbital elements, including the argument of perihelion, remain confined to relatively narrow ranges. We find that a nominal Planet Nine can keep the orbits of (90377) Sedna and 2012 VP113 relatively well confined in orbital parameter space for hundreds of Myr, but it may make the orbits of 2004 VN112, 2007 TG422 and 2013 RF98 very unstable on time-scales of dozens of Myr, turning them retrograde and eventually triggering their ejection from the Solar system. Far more stable orbital evolution is found with slightly modified orbits for Planet Nine.

Commensurabilities between ETNOs: a Monte Carlo survey

Many asteroids in the main and trans-Neptunian belts are trapped in mean motion resonances with Jupiter and Neptune, respectively. As a side effect, they experience accidental commensurabilities among themselves. These commensurabilities define characteristic patterns that can be used to trace the source of the observed resonant behaviour. Here, we explore systematically the existence of commensurabilities between the known ETNOs using their heliocentric and barycentric semimajor axes, their uncertainties, and Monte Carlo techniques. We find that the commensurability patterns present in the known ETNO population resemble those found in the main and trans-Neptunian belts. Although based on small number statistics, such patterns can only be properly explained if most, if not all, of the known ETNOs are subjected to the resonant gravitational perturbations of yet undetected trans-Plutonian planets. We show explicitly that some of the statistically significant commensurabilities are compatible with the Planet Nine hypothesis; in particular, a number of objects may be trapped in the 5:3 and 3:1 mean motion resonances with a putative Planet Nine with semimajor axis ˜700 au.

SOURCES - Mirror UK, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, Cambridge News

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