Scientists are in awe after having discovered a very strange trans-Neptunian object (TNO) that is orbiting the Sun in a very rebellious way. Its behavior has earned it the name Niku, which can be translated to “rebellious” in Chinese.
Scientists say in a paper on arXiv.org that the object is orbiting the Sun in the opposite direction of any other planet in the Solar System, which in itself is weird, but there’s more…
Niku is also orbiting with a high inclination at 110º to the plane of the rest of the Solar System, which means it’s almost a vertical orbit compared to most other major objects in our Solar System. All of our planets orbit in a horizontal fashion.
No one actually knows how this came to happen, but well-known astronomer Michelle Banister said on her personal Twitter account that this discovery seems to conflict with the Planet Nine theory.
Because of the strange orbital path Niku has, it is opening Pandora’s Box and making scientists scramble to come to conclusions about what may have caused it.
“Angular momentum forces everything to have that one spin direction all the same way,” says Bannister. “It’s the same thing with a spinning top, every particle is spinning the same direction.”
Co-author of the study Matthew Holman even says, “It suggests that there’s more going on in the outer solar system than we’re fully aware of.” The object may even be a puzzle piece to another plane in our Solar System that we don’t even know about yet.
Niku is about 160,000 times fainter than Neptune is, which makes it very hard to study. The faintness gives astronomers the idea that it’s probably about 200 kilometers or less in diameter. It was discovered and observed with the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System 1 Survey (Pan-STARRS 1) on Haleakala, Maui.
It should be interesting to see what else our Solar System might be hiding and to try and learn what may have caused this strange orbit. The quest to find out what made this happen may even lead to new discoveries; perhaps even more objects that orbit the Sun in a similar way.
Source: New Scientist