A question hanging around for years now, is there a dark Planet Nine far beyond the orbit of Neptune? Many astronomers have been arguing the possibility of evidence for a large gravity source in the deep solar space. According to a new research paper, this is not a gravity source, it is a statistical mirage.
This hypothetical ninth planet was supposedly a group of rocks with unusually close and almost similar orbits. Being the first hint, these hard-to-spot objects beyond Neptune’s orbit are known as ‘trans-Neptunian objects’ (TNOs).
With the limited sunlight in the far-outer world, these rocks tend to blend into galaxies and stars’ brighter backgrounds. Hence, these grab the most attention, and a handful has already been cataloged.
In 2016, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, the California Institute of Technology astronomers, discovered that six TNOs had orbits oriented in the same direction. All these six also had aphelions roughly on the same side of the solar system.
In a paper published in the Astronomical Journal, Brown and Batygin wrote: a planet with a mass of ten times more than the Earth. It is way beyond Pluto, which is following the long elliptical around the Sun. With time, they also argued that a large gravity source would have pulled the 6 TNOs into the clustered orbits.
However, in this new paper published on February 12, researchers suggest that the TNOs aren’t significantly clustered. They say it looks like that just because of the direction it is pointed in from the Earth.