A mysterious, unseen, planetary object with a mass somewhere between that of Mars and Earth may be lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system, according to new research.
Scientists at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) put forward evidence that this unknown “planetary mass object” may explain why the plane of the solar system is warped in the outer reaches of the Kuiper Belt.
— RT (@RT_com) June 23, 2017
The Kuiper Belt lies beyond the orbit of Neptune and hosts a vast number of minor planets, mostly small, icy bodies and a few dwarf planets.
All planets in our solar system orbit around the sun on the same plane but, according to the measurements made by the research team, the most distant Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) appear to be tilted away from this by about eight degrees.
This indicates that something unknown is warping the average orbital plane of the outer solar system.
“The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass,” says Kat Volk, lead author of the study. “According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured.”
Kat Volk & Renu Malhotra find the plane of the solar system is warped, signaling the presence of a planetary object. https://t.co/4Aeynx8kLg
— Lunar&Planetary Lab (@UALPL) June 22, 2017
The tilt angles of the orbital planes of more than 600 objects in the Kuiper Belt were analyzed for the study.
“We expect each of the KBOs’ orbital tilt angle to be at a different orientation, but on average, they will be pointing perpendicular to the plane determined…