A new study is out saying there could be at least two undiscovered planets in the outer reaches of our solar system. These aren’t tiny ones either. They could be as big as Earth or larger.
Where did scientists get this idea from? Scientists from the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge looked at a belt of space bodies called “extreme trans-Neptunian objects.”
Current theory says objects in this area should be distributed randomly and have paths that meet certain criteria. Here’s the criteria according to the press release.
Have a semi-major axis with a value close to 150 AU (astronomical units or times the distance between the Earth and the Sun), an inclination of almost 0° and an argument or angle of perihelion (closest point of the orbit to our Sun) also close to 0° or 180°.
But, that’s not what they found. The values of the semi-major axis on 12 of these objects varied between 150 AU and 525 AU. Average inclination of their orbits is around 20 degrees and the angle of Perihelion -31 degrees.
This is where the idea of at least two planets come into play. There the only explanation scientists can come up that would explain the orbits of these 12 objects.
“This excess of objects with unexpected orbital parameters makes us believe that some invisible forces are altering the distribution of the orbital elements of the ETNO and we consider that the most probable explanation is that other unknown planets exist beyond Neptune and Pluto,” explains Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, scientist at the UCM and co-author of the study.
“The exact number is uncertain, given that the data that we have is limited, but our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets, and probably more, within the confines of our solar system,” de la Fuente Marcos adds.
Before we all jump on the idea of at least two extra planets in our solar system, this is a small sample size. Confirmation of the study could come in the next few months more objects are studied.
De la Fuente Marcos says if the results are confirmed it could be “revolutionary for astronomy.”
It’s amazing what we still don’t know about our own backyard in space. We study stars and planets light-years away, yet we still have mysteries right here. Incredible stuff.
Let’s say there are two undiscovered planets. Tell me what you would name them before NASA hits it with some uninteresting name.
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