planet x update 2017
planet x update 2017


Scientists have discovered a mysterious planet in a strange orbit beyond Neptune on the outer edge of the solar system. Nicknamed Niku, it appears to be a trans-Neptunian object and it has got scientists baffled.
Niku, named after the Chinese word for ‘Rebel’, has a diameter of just 200km (120 miles), and behaves like no other similarly-sized planet in the Solar System.

This trans-Neptunian object orbits the Sun at 110 degrees to the flat plane of the Solar System, on which other planets move around the Sun. It’s currently above the plane and rising higher but will eventually cross over, dropping below the plane as it continues its orbit. Though irregular, this is not the strangest factor about Niku’s orbit. This “rebel” orbits in a retrograde direction, meaning it rotates in the opposite direction to the Sun’s rotation. The fact that its orbit is retrograde was likely caused by a collision with an unknown mass or a gravitational pull by a mystery force.

“Angular momentum forces everything to have that one spin direction all the same way,” said Michele Bannister, an astronomer from Queen’s University, Belfast in Northern Ireland. “It’s the same thing with a spinning top, every particle is spinning the same direction.”

Matthew Holman of Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics was among the team of scientists who discovered Niku and admits this phenomenon throws up many questions. He said: “It suggests there’s more going on in the outer Solar System than we’re fully aware of.” It’s quite possible Niku is part of a group of highly-inclined objects all moving in a strange orbital pattern around the Solar System.

The discovery of another group of strangely-related objects in the Kuiper belt led to the claim earlier this year by Caltech scientists Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown that there was a massive planet in the far reaches of our Solar System. This planet is said to be 10-times as big as Earth and orbits the Sun once every 10,000 to 20,000 years.

Two astronomers from Spain have announced that their research has uncovered evidence that corroborates the hypothesis of a potential massive Planet Nine orbiting in the outer Solar System. The astronomers found that the data supported “signs of the presence of a massive planet” affecting the orbit of Niku and other bodies. Their analysis of the movement of multiple trans-Neptunian objects in the outer reaches of our solar system suggests this object is roughly 10 times the mass of Earth. This hypothesis is based on the dynamically similar movements of the comets that interact with Jupiter, we interpret these results as signs of the presence of a planet that is actively interacting with them in a range of distances from 300 to 400 AU.”
The research also found a correlation between the movements of the objects and the inclination, or orientation of the orbits of these distant objects. According to the astronomers, such a correlation should not exist.

The movement of these objects in the Kuiper belt supports the original hypothesis proposed in early 2016 by Caltech astronomers whose work suggested that evidence existed that an enormous object, located at an average distance of 700 AU from earth (Astronomical Units — the distance from the Sun to the Earth).
The Spanish astronomers are not alone in finding supportive evidence for Planet Nine (or Planet X, which it is sometimes referred). Researchers from Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and Complutense University of Madrid in February revealed, that a particular pair of asteroids could have been locked in a binary pairing before the near passage of a massive object like Planet Nine pulled them apart, sending them on their present courses. The number of trans-neptunian objects continues to grow as well, providing more support for the hypothesis of a Planet Nine. The theory is that such a large object captures and pulls these TNO’s along with it. There are now 28 known TNOs in our Solar System, in February there were only 21. The United Nations declared June 30 International Asteroid Day to raise public awareness about what event organizers describe as “humanity’s greatest challenge.”