A planet 10 times the size of Earth exists somewhere in the far reaches of our solar system, according to scientists from Complutense University of Madrid.
Spanish astronomers found that a distant planet was altering the orbits of trans-Neptunian objects (ETNO), including asteroids and comets. The planet is roughly eight to 10 times further from the sun than Pluto.
“Assuming that the ETNOs are dynamically similar to 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,” Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, one of the paper’s authors, said in the press statement. “We believe that what we are seeing here cannot be attributed to the presence of observational bias.”
Astronomers analyzed 28 ETNOs and found that their orbits were correlated in a way that could only be explained by interference from a distant large planet.
“If there is nothing to perturb them, the nodes of these extreme trans-Neptunian objects should be uniformly distributed, as there is nothing for them to avoid, but if there are one or more perturbers, two situations may arise,” de la Fuente Marcos said.
“One possibility is that the ETNOs are stable, and in this case, they would tend to have their nodes away from the path of possible perturbers,” he added. “But if they are unstable, they would behave as the comets that interact with Jupiter do, tending to have one of the nodes close to the orbit of the hypothetical perturber.”
Astronomers believe a “Planet X” could lie at the outer edge of our solar system. Some scientists believe that “Planet X’s” gravity may be tugging on NASA’s Cassini probe orbiting Saturn. No scientists have ever obtained any direct evidence of the planet, but have only observed its gravity’s impact on asteroids and comets.
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