At least two undiscovered planets should exist well beyond Neptune say scientists

Posted: January 15, 2015 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, solar system dynamics, Uncertainty
Solar system cartoon [NASA]

Solar system cartoon [NASA]

This is not a new idea but it seems to be gaining a bit more traction. Planetary bodies like Pluto-sized Sedna don’t seem to fit the accepted ‘rules’ of solar system dynamics. reports: There could be at least two unknown planets hidden well beyond Pluto, whose gravitational influence determines the orbits and strange distribution of objects observed beyond Neptune. This has been revealed by numerical calculations made by researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge. If confirmed, this hypothesis would revolutionise solar system models.

Astronomers have spent decades debating whether some dark trans-Plutonian planet remains to be discovered within the solar system. According to the calculations of scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM, Spain) and the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) not only one, but at least two planets must exist to explain the orbital behaviour of extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNO).

The most accepted theory establishes that the orbits of these objects, which travel beyond Neptune, should be distributed randomly, and by an observational bias, their paths must fulfil a series of characteristics: 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°.

Yet what is observed in a dozen of these bodies is quite different: the values of the semi-major axis are very disperse (between 150 AU and 525 AU), the average inclination of their orbit is around 20° and argument of Perihelion -31°, without appearing in any case close to 180°.

Read the rest here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    The graphic (see link) of the orbit of Sedna gives a clue as to what the issue is.

    About Sedna:

    Note re the NASA cartoon above: the ‘Oort cloud’ has never been seen but is believed to exist.

  2. Trick says:

    NASA WISE mission survey familiarity will help understanding current data on the subject. WISE found a lot of previously unknown solar system and nearby objects. Also found as of 3/7/2014: “no object the size of Saturn or larger exists out to a distance of 10,000 astronomical units (au), and no object larger than Jupiter exists out to 26,000 au.” Might be some smaller than Jupiter mass gas or icy/rocky planet sized objects in there still to be found I suppose since too faint for WISE detection. See WISE sensitivity chart in 2nd of 3 picture dot.

  3. tchannon says:

    So planet X still wanders..Do any of the theories look promising?

  4. Trick says:

    Planet X once had a specific definition (not planet 10). WISE is sensitive enough to have found a wandering planet of the original description. Now the X seems to apply to any unfound dwarf planet (Pluto) and planet size object which could still exist in solar orbit yet unseen below WISE sensitivity chart.

    Interesting the photographic plates taken in search of original Planet X were later found to show Pluto prior to discovery.

  5. Ray Tomes says:

    I predict that a planet might exist at close to 114.2 AU from the Sun. This distance shows up as strongly harmonically related to the existing planets.

  6. oldbrew says:

    From the report:

    ‘Last year two researchers from the United States discovered a dwarf planet called 2012 VP113 in the Oort cloud, just beyond our solar system. The discoverers consider that its orbit is influenced by the possible presence of a dark and icy super-Earth, up to ten times larger than our planet.’

    Wikipedia: ‘2012 VP113 has the largest perihelion distance of any known object in the Solar System’ [approx. 80 AU]

    The discovery got The Guardian’s imagination going:
    ‘Dwarf planet discovery hints at a hidden Super Earth in solar system’

    Its orbit period is around 4260 years, a lot less than the more eccentric Sedna (11000 years plus)

    ‘The orbits of Sedna (orange) and dwarf planet 2012 VP113 (red). Also shown are the orbits of the giant planets (purple). The Kuiper belt is the dotted light blue region.’ Illustration: Scott S Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science [via]

  7. ren says:

    Sun very quiet.

  8. oldbrew says:

    @ linneamogren

    There is a problem with precession theory, which has been admitted by the IAU:

    ‘…while the precession portion of the IAU 2000A precession-nutation model, recommended for use beginning on 1 January 2003 by resolution B1.6 of the XXIVth IAU General Assembly, is based on improved precession rates with respect to the IAU 1976 precession, it is not consistent with dynamical theory‘ [bold added]

    One question might be: what is causing the problem?

  9. oldbrew says:

    Can anyone find a coherent precession theory here? Good luck…

  10. Below is not my opinion but the opinion of someone else. Rog this might be a topic for discussion on this web-site?

    The increase in geological activity (seismicity and volcanism) since 1994, the increase in meteors, asteroids, and comets, and the unusual behavior of the Sun are all caused by our solar system entering the Magnetic Plane of the Milky Way. The Interstellar dust is not hypothetical hydrogen and helium, it is debris from an eternity of exploding stars and planets. The structure of the Milky Way Magnetic Plane is a larger scale version of the rings of Saturn and other gas giants.

  11. w.w.wygart says:

    TB wrote: “This is not a new idea but it seems to be gaining a bit more traction. Planetary bodies like Pluto-sized Sedna don’t seem to fit the accepted ‘rules’ of solar system dynamics.”

    This is what my buddy Φ had to say on FB the other day in a similar vein:

    “Nature is not constrained by what Science currently thinks is supposed to be possible.”

  12. tallbloke says:

    WWW: Wise words indeed.

  13. oldbrew says:

    NASA probe closing in on Ceres. This report says its a dwarf planet, some say an asteroid.

    ‘The dwarf planet Ceres is about the size of Texas, with an average width of 590 miles (950 kilometers). It is the largest object in the asteroid belt but the smallest known dwarf planet in the solar system.’