Following a major discovery implying that a ninth planet may be orbiting our solar system, the scientists are investigating its possible impact on the tilted orbits observed for the other planets.
All known planets of the Solar System have their orbits in almost the same plane, but it's interesting that the plane is approximately 6° aslope of the Sun's rotation plane. The momentum conservation law implies such an occurrence cannot happen lightly, which has led the scientists to suspect another object may have entered the system some time ago, causing the observed tilt.
Prior to its discovery, the likely candidate to explain the spin alignment has been a passing star, or magnetic field interactions of the Sun and the disc from which the Solar System was formed in the early days.
The Planet's Nine theoretical orbital plane differs from other Solar System planets and it may have put other planets off their axes during the early Solar System period. This would also suggest the planet doesn't originate from our Solar System, but it may be an exoplanet captured the Sun.
After the scientists at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena suspected the Planet Nine may be causing some of the unusual movements of the outer Solar System planets, the idea can be applied to other planets, as well.
“Because we think Planet Nine has a significant inclination, if it exists, then that means it would tilt things. It’s one puzzle piece that seems to fit together, and it really seems to be in support of the Planet Nine hypothesis,” said Elizabeth Bailey, a Caltech scientist.
According to the calculations, the Planet Nine could weigh between 5 and 20 times the mass of our planet with an extremely eccentric orbit that reaches 250 times the distance of the Sun and the Earth, at its farthest end. Such an orbit indicates it was actually once an exoplanet before it got captured by our Sun.
If this occurred during the early solar system formation days, the planet's gravitational pull would cause the observed alignment of the planets' relative to the Sun. The most important aspect of the Planet Nine is its tilt while if it were the mass, then Jupiter would be suspected as a cause.
“What is important is that the perturbing planet is off-plane. Jupiter cannot cause its own tilt,” said Alessandro Morbidelli at Côte d’Azur Observatory in Nice.
The Planet Nine's definite existence is, however, yet to be examined.
- "The inclination of the planetary system relative to the solar equator may be explained by the presence of Planet 9" - Rodney Gomes, Rogerio Deienno, Alessandro Morbidelli - arXiv:1607.05111
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Featured image credit: TheLipTV2