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Solar System Map

Solar System Map - showing size, mass and orbital period of planets & dwarf planets

Planet Nine?

Planet Nine is a hypothetical large planet in the far outer Solar System, the gravitational effects of which would explain the improbable orbital configuration of a group of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) that orbit mostly beyond the Kuiper belt.

In a 2014 letter to the journal Nature, astronomers Chad Trujillo and Scott S. Sheppard inferred the possible existence of a massive trans-Neptunian planet from similarities in the orbits of the distant trans-Neptunian objects Sedna and 2012 VP113. On 20 January 2016, researchers Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown at Caltech explained how a massive outer planet would be the likeliest explanation for the similarities in orbits of six distant objects, and they proposed specific orbital parameters. The predicted planet could be a super-Earth, with an estimated mass of 10 Earths (approximately 5,000 times the mass of Pluto), a diameter two to four times that of Earth, and a highly elliptical orbit with an orbital period of approximately 15,000 years.

This planet has not been discovered yet, and if it exists, it will be hard to spot because it is far away and therefore will reflect very little light and have a very low temperature. Although this theory has gained some support over the years, there are still sceptics who offer other theories to try to explain the observed features in the movements of some trans-Neptunian objects.

Planet Nine: NASA's view

Planet Nine: Wikipedia


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