Research

10 amazing facts, assumptions and conjectures about the new ninth planet

In early January of this year, the entire scientific communityshocked the news about the likely presence of the ninth planet of the solar system, located behind the orbit of Pluto. Scientists have only to find out the details about our new neighbor, but researchers already agree that this planet is at least 10 times larger than the Earth. Scientists among themselves have already managed to christen it "Fatty" (from the English "Fatty"). And the fact that such a huge cosmic body continued to remain undetected until today, only once again tells us how little we actually know about our solar system and how much we have yet to find out about it.

The planet was discovered by a man who "killed" Pluto.

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Even if you've never heard of Mike Brown,You must have heard of his work. In 2005, he discovered Eridu, the Kuiper Belt space object, claiming to be a planet. The debate that broke out between scientists led to the fact that in the end Eridu, like Pluto, was decided to be reclassified as a dwarf planet. This event brought Brown some of the world's fame, and the scientist even wrote the book How I Killed Pluto and Why It Was Inevitable.

However, ironically, the person who “deprived” ourThe solar system of the planet, opened a new one. In collaboration with his colleague Konstantin Batygin (an astrophysicist from Caltech and a native of the USSR), he announced in the Astronomical Journal that the unusual orbital behavior of 13 trans-Neptune objects (that is, objects outside the orbit of Neptune) the existence of a massive remote planet.

"We realized that the only thing that could cause all these trans-Neptunian objects to move in the same direction was the gravity of a massive planet."

The exclusion of Pluto from the list of planets upset many space enthusiasts. It is likely that the new Ninth Planet (which has not yet received its official name) will be able to calm their souls.

This is an ice giant

According to Brown and Batygin, in contrast to Plutoand Eris, the new Ninth Planet is a truly full-fledged (non-dwarf) planet. Brown, in an interview with New Yorker, even shared his assumption that "this planet is" the most planetary planet "among all the planets of the solar system." Usually we call objects “planets”, which by their gravitational forces dominate over objects located in the neighborhood. Pluto is a slave to Neptune's gravity. However, the Ninth Planet has the largest area of ​​gravitational dominance among all known planets in the solar system. And even for this reason, we can say with confidence that this find is indeed a planet. Knowing this, we can conclude that this is not a small object at all. It is at least 10 times more massive than Earth and about 5 thousand times more massive than Pluto. ”

Estimated object size may speakus about its one of the most important characteristics - the composition. The larger the planet, the thicker the atmosphere is, as it produces more and more gas elements as a result of the process called accretion. This process, for example, explains why planets such as, for example, Earth and Mars, can only reach a certain size before they turn into gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn. Ice giants, in turn, are located somewhere in the middle of this classification. Their atmosphere is also dense and consists of practically the same components that make up the atmosphere of gas giants, but these planets are much smaller in size.

The size of the Ninth Planet is greater than any other.rocky planet, but at the same time smaller than the size of any gas giant. This, in turn, may hint at their belonging to such a strange category, like the ice planets. Scientists have not yet come to a joint agreement on how ice giants are formed. Most of the accepted models of the formation of gas giants are not suitable here. As a result, the question of the formation of ice giants remains an open subject of heated debate in the scientific community. More detailed details about the Ninth Planet could help resolve all these disputes.

It is incredibly far from the sun.

Even by astronomical standards the Ninth Planetlocated incredibly far from the Luminary. Its estimated distance to the Sun is more than 90 billion kilometers, which is 20 times the distance from the Sun to Neptune, which is currently officially the most distant planet. Just imagine, the spacecraft New Horizons, which reached Pluto 9 years after its launch, will take another 54 years to get to the Ninth Planet! And this is at best! During the orbital phase of its maximum distance from the Sun, it may take up to 350 years to reach it. It should, however, be noted that, of course, both scenarios are only hypothetical, as the New Horizons simply do not have enough fuel to reach the Ninth Planet.

Such a high distance may bethe reason why the Ninth Planet could not be found until now. Based on their calculations, Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin believe that their hypothetical planet can still be seen even with the help of amateur and semi-professional telescopes, but only at that moment when its orbit will be located relatively closer to the Earth. And since no one has yet discovered the planet, it can be concluded that it is currently at the most distant point of its orbit. Nevertheless, Batygin and Brown believe that it can be seen with the help of very powerful observatory telescopes.

Her orbital period is simply colossal.

Do not rush to buy telescopes, as Devayatathe planet is not going to appear in the near future. The exact time it takes the planet to make one revolution around the Sun, scientists have yet to figure out, but according to preliminary estimates of Brown and Batygin, its orbital period is at least 10,000 years. And this is the best. Since scientists believe that the planet has an elliptical orbit, it is likely that its orbital period may be 20,000 years. And this, in turn, will be the largest orbital period among all known astronomy planets.

As often happens in astronomy, the numbers areonly conjectural, so determining the exact values ​​will be a very difficult task. If it turns out that the orbital period of the Ninth Planet is indeed equal to 10,000 years, then the last time it was at the point it is now was when there were still mammoths on the Earth, and the human population at its best numbered 5 million people. Virtually the entire recorded history of the Earth, starting with the advent of agriculture and ending with the invention of the iPod, passed only one year for the Ninth Planet, where the seasons can last for entire centuries. It sounds crazy, but in the solar system, where a day can last much longer than a whole year on some planets, anything is possible.

She can be much closer

Extreme remoteness of the Ninth Planet makesits special in the literal and figurative sense. Comparative distances of other planets make the entire solar system look like a cozy company, while the Ninth Planet looks more like a hermit living alone somewhere in the forest. However, perhaps this was not always the case, and the “prankster of the Solar System” - Jupiter may be to blame for everything.

In 2011, scientists began to wonder aboutwhy our solar system does not have a fifth "giant" planet, the presence of which is usually noted in many other systems. One explanation could be that Jupiter could catch this “fifth giant” with its gravitational forces at that moment in history when our Solar System was still very young. As a result, this planet could be dropped from the orbit of the Sun and thrown to the farthest backyards. So far, scientists are not sure whether such a thing could happen to the Ninth Planet, but the discovery of a giant planet in the far corners of the system to some extent only feeds this theory.

She may be an interstellar traveler.

The main problem of space is thathe is very very big. Therefore, one of the greatest obstacles to studying it is that we simply do not have the opportunity to get to one or another of its corners in a relatively reasonable amount of time by human standards. In addition, there are no gas stations in space in case we run out of fuel as part of our space travel. The ninth planet can partly solve this problem.

In the same way that mission astronautsApollo 13 used the Moon as a "gravitational slingshot" that allowed the device to get back to Earth, future space researchers will be able to use the most powerful gravitational pool of the Ninth Planet to accelerate their spacecraft to higher speeds, accelerating their movement further into the unknown darkness of space . This process, also known as the “gravitational maneuver,” assisted NASA’s aerospace agency many times. Thanks to this process, for example, the Voyager space probe and the New Horizons interplanetary spacecraft were accelerated. Both used the gravitational forces of Jupiter to accelerate toward the outer limits of the solar system. The same can be done with the Ninth Planet.

Of course, while this is all just in theory. Planets such as Jupiter, whose characteristics are more or less already known to scientists, allowed NASA to accurately calculate the time needed for acceleration to move in the right direction and at the right speed. However, the orbital period of the Ninth Planet, which is 10,000 years by modest standards, means that spacecraft will have to be in one place for several hundred years to correctly guess the desired trajectory of further movement. In other words, this gravitational maneuver will be useful only for movement in certain directions, and not necessarily in those that we will need. In addition, if it turns out that the density of the Ninth Planet is as low as, say, Neptune, then the gravitational acceleration will be quite insignificant. However, the idea should not be buried immediately. At least until we find out more about the planet itself.

Conspiracy theorists say she is the forerunner of the apocalypse ...

It's time to get used to it, that almost everyA new significant (and not very) discovery inside the solar system, there are many people who associate these discoveries with the coming apocalypse. For example, take the asteroids Apophis, TV135, 2014 YB35 and many others that are supposed to put an end to all living and nonliving on Earth.

Attitude towards the discovery of the Ninth Planet, as you havecould guess the same. Almost immediately after the announcement of the discovery, “prophets” appeared on the Internet, which began to tell everywhere that the Ninth Planet is actually Nibiru, also known as Planet X (which seemed like a joke until Pluto was taken away from the status of the 9th Solar system). According to conspiracy theorists, Nibiru is a mystical "planet of death", whose existence has long been denied and continues to be denied by the governments of all countries. Ostensibly, it will once pass close to the Earth so close that its gravitational forces will cause on our planet annihilating all living earthquakes and tsunamis. And this is at best. At the worst - she will face us.

The forecast is very "romantic", but it is not clearone thing: how is the ninth planet going to do this if it is almost the most distant cosmic object inside the solar system? In fact, let's not succumb to the conspiratorial bullshit.

... Although there is a small chance that this is true

More scientifically grounded fatalists say thatGravity of the Ninth Planet can capture asteroids and meteorites flying past and direct them to Earth, potentially leading to destructive meteorite impacts. From a scientific point of view, this theory really has weight. The gravitational effects of the Ninth Planet (or whatever it is) are indeed documented. In the end, the presence of "Fatty" scientists began to deduce hypotheses after they discovered a gravitational effect on smaller space objects. Therefore, in the realities of the possibilities, one or several such objects can in fact once be directed straight to the Earth.

However, here again, not everything is so simple. Remember that space is very, very large. The object thrown in our direction will have to overcome many planets, and consequently, many gravitational forces that can change its direction before it reaches the Earth. In this case, the Ninth Planet will have to “shoot” very precisely so that the released “bullet” reaches its destination point. In fairness, we note that there is still the possibility of this, but this is far from likely. Astronomer Scott Sheppard says that "The ninth planet can from time to time launch small objects through the solar system, but this only slightly increases the chances of our mass extinction."

It may not exist at all.

Before we send Matt Damon to BeltKuiper, let's think for a second. At the moment, the presence of the Ninth Planet is the best hypothetical explanation for why some objects beyond the orbit of Neptune have strange behavior. Even those astronomers who made the discovery of the planet speak very carefully in their formulations. According to Mike Brown, all these oddities can be nothing more than an amazing coincidence.

Amazing circumstances in theirturn, very often found in astronomy. At the beginning of the 20th century, an American businessman, diplomat, as well as astronomer and mathematician Percival Lowell announced that Neptune’s orbit was changed by a gravitational pool of a previously unidentified giant planet. In 1930, another American astronomer, Clyde Tombo, discovered the planet Pluto exactly where Lowell predicted it. However, in the 1970s, astronomers realized that Pluto is in fact a very small planet and could in no way affect Neptune’s orbit. In fact, there was no planet that somehow affected the orbit of Neptune. Lowell's calculations were based on incorrect data, and the discovery of Pluto in that predicted place is nothing more than astonishing, but nonetheless an accident.

Therefore, before you rejoice in the discovery, you should think: no one has visually seen the ninth planet. And there is a chance that they will never see her, because she is not there and never was.