Life outside of Earth has long perplexed human beings. Can there be intelligent life beyond our blue, green planet and if so, why have they not contacted us? But when you zoom out, there are so many solar systems out there that it is nearly impossible for there NOT to be life beyond this planet.
Recent studies have shown a planet, designated as Planet 9, that could be a source of interest and disaster for our home planet.
Caltech astronomers have postulated the idea that a 9th major planet may be located in our solar system.
This ‘Planet 9’ is approximately 700 times farther from the sun than Earth.
What is interesting is that there is a select class of objects known as trans-Neptunian objects that lay way beyond Neptune’s orbit.
Because they are so far away, even the most advanced telescopes have failed to find this Planet 9. However, observational data has suggested and shown that there is something working on the orbits of these small bodies on the far reaches of our solar system.
Planets orbit an object with a greater mass. The Earth, Neptune, Mars and all the other planets orbit the Sun because of the Sun’s higher mass.
However, it has been noticed that the orbits of these objects are a little off. They are spinning ‘the wrong way’ and astronomers are not sure what is acting on these small bodies.
According to Renu Malhotra from the University of Arizona: ‘Imagine you have lots and lots of fast-spinning tops, and you give each one a slight nudge.’
‘If you then take a snapshot of them you will find that their spin axes will be at different orientations, but on average they will be pointing to the local gravitational field of Earth.’
The scientists have noticed that the angles are wrong. They are warped at a different orientations and tilted in the wrong manner.
So these astronomers predict that there is a large mass out there (such as a giant star from another solar system) that is acting on these rogue planets and thus causing this weird orbit.
However, this comes with a dire warning. Because these are rogue planets, they can wander in and out of our solar system.
Statistics and simulations have shown that about 60 per cent of rogue planets that enter our solar system will bounce out again.
And this ‘bouncing out’ could be catastrophic since it could take out planets along the way. It could wipe out Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, our moon, or even the Earth.
These same statistics have shown that about 10 per cent of the time these rogue planets will take out another planet (hopefully not ours) as it leaves our solar system.