Astronomers are deeply interested in figuring out whether or not there really is a ninth planet out there. Dubbed ‘Planet Nine,’ this spatial body is suggested to be in the outer-most reaches of our solar system, and scientists are currently still in the process of looking for it.
Scientists are tracking the movements of six spatial bodies as they orbit the Sun in the Kuiper Belt, and their “slingshot”-like orbital patterns suggest that there’s something big out there that’s knocking them into a strange gravitational loop around the Sun.
Some examples of these patterns are outlined in the following video from Caltech:
Among major interest is the fact that all of the orbital patterns between the six spatial bodies seem to point in the same direction, suggesting that Planet Nine, if it exists, would be large and is influencing a gravitational effect on those spatial bodies located in the Kuiper Belt just outside of Pluto’s orbit.
Now, revealed at a recent talk at the SETI institute, Michelle Banister of the University of Victora, Canada says that they’ve found yet another Kuiper Belt object that is following these orbital trends that scientists believe is related to gravitational forces at work. The discovery continues to strengthen the theory of the existence of Planet Nine.
Not a whole lot of time was spent talking about the Kuiper Belt object, because little is known about it at this point in time. The object is so new to our records that there isn’t even an official name for it yet. All we know is that it exists.
As far as Planet Nine goes, there’s no proof it exists just yet, only strong evidence. We have not even begun to see or image such an object, but something is definitely out there and is creating strange gravitational patterns for objects in the far reaches of our solar system.
Other astronomers are skeptical, suggesting that the orbital patterns may just be a coincidence. After all, although the Kuiper Belt objects are all aligning in the same place in their orbital patterns, they’re not all pointing in the same direction. So there may be a lot of strange forces at work that we just don’t know enough about yet.
Source: SETI Institute, New Scientist