Mysterious ‘Planet 9’ might not be a planet at all

On June 4 during a news conference, Ann-Marie Madigan said: "The picture that we are having in our mind is somewhat like a lot many little moons are present in the solar system, and they are floating around the solar system and also interacting with the comets".

In the years since, more evidence of a ninth planet has turned up in the orbits of trans-Neptunian objects and the wobble of the Sun, while other astronomers have modeled its composition and even floated the idea of a Mars-sized 10th planet. "We can solve a lot of these problems by just taking into account that question", she explained.

Bodies in the extreme outer solar system that never come close enough to the Sun to be affected any any significant manner by the gravity of Neptune and the other major planets are known as "detached objects". The orbits of smaller objects, such as asteroids, however, move faster than the larger ones, such as Sedna.

At the edge of the solar system, small dwarf planets like Sedna move in odd ways that suggest an unseen ninth planet may be lurking in deep space beyond Neptune, asserting its gravitational pull. The key evidence was the highly eccentric orbits of some Kuiper Belt objects, which are tilted 30 degrees off-kilter from the rest of the planets. I'm talking about the maybe-kinda-sorta hidden planet that might-kinda-maybe be lurking at the very distant edge of our solar system.

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The natural process is that massive minor planets are naturally detached by the interaction of different gravities from the objects. We're still researching the farthest reaches of the solar system - and still hunting for Planet 9, if it's out there to start with. Using the simulations, they had calculated that the orbits of icy objects beyond Neptune circle the sun like the hands of a clock.

Repeated interaction cycles among large and small TNOs may be responsible for pushing comets into the inner solar system on regular timescales.

"You see a pileup of the orbits of smaller objects to one side of the Sun", he said.

"There could be thousands of these (smaller) bodies out there waiting to be detected", said Jacob Fleisig, of the University of Colorado at Boulder who presented this new research earlier this week at the American Astronomical Society meeting.

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"Planet Nine explains this really well, and we do not", admits Madigan.

This theory matches a 2012 finding showing the larger a detached TNO becomes, the more distant its orbit gets from the Sun.

A new theory put forward by scientists can both explain this unusual behaviour of dwarf planets as well as possibly explain the fate of dinosaurs, notes the report. While the researchers couldn't directly connect their observations to the collision that wiped out the dinosaurs and most life on Earth, Fleisig called the possibility "tantalizing".

Asteroids may also have slammed into bigger objects, altering their orbits - and may have "dislodged" comets which then headed towards Earth.

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'While we're not able to say that this pattern killed the dinosaurs.

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