In the 1820s, French astronomer Alexis Bouvard hypothesized that Uranus ’irregular orbit was influenced by the eighth planet in our solar system, leading to the discovery of Neptune. In 2016, referring to the unusual orbit of a planetoid in Neptune’s orbit, two astronomers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) predicted that another planet was lurking in the solar system: Planet Nine.
The theory has gained strength, which is no small achievement given the quackery that has historically surrounded the predictions of the ninth planet. However, this also attracts a lot of doubt.
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Last week, a team of researchers from Cornell University, led by Kevin Napier, published a pre-print paper (yet to be reviewed) that they say discredits evidence often used in support of Planet Nina. “The short story is that all the evidence for Planet Nina is gone,” tweeted Stephanie Deppe, co-author of the paper.
First, the theory behind planet nine. Hypothesis Fr.it revolves around extreme trans-Neptunian objects, mini-planets whose orbits around the Sun extend far beyond Neptune. (Really far – over 750 million miles away.) In 2016, two Caltech researchers, Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, published a paper examining the unusual orbits of six ETNOs – the orbits are elliptical, not circular, and at an angle that causes approaching the sun at almost the same point.
The six ETNOs observed by Caltech researchers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin had unusually elliptical orbits (purple) that cluster around the Sun at almost the same point. Brown and Batygin say their orbits have been disrupted by Planet Nina, which lives far away from Neptune.
Brown and Batygin estimate that this set of orbits will happen by chance with a 0.007% chance. They assume that the ETNOs came into contact with the gravitational pull of planet nine distorting their orbits. Astronomers even performed a simulation that calculated the dimensions of Planet Nine: a radius two to four times larger than Earth’s, and a mass five to ten times larger.
The new research, the Cornell team, does not completely rule out the existence of Planet Nina, but claims that Brown and Batygin are far less likely to think.
A key part of the number is biased data. ETNO are far and relatively small, which makes them difficult to see. Astronomers are only able to notice them when ETNO orbits near the sun. To achieve this, telescopes are adapted to see a certain part of the sky, at a certain part of the year, at a certain time of day. This method of prejudice takes a sample of the data, a Cornell team article claims.
Thus, the team extracted data from three different telescopic tests and assessed the movements of 14 ETNOs, none of which were included in Brown and Batygin’s 2016 work, and calculated the selection bias with computer bias. Spared you some incomprehensible astronomy, their finding was that what was previously considered to be the “cluster” of ETNO is actually just a bias of choice. „TL; DR: You find it [ETNOs] wherever you look, ”one of the researchers explained eerily in a tweet.
Simply put: Planet Nina probably doesn’t need to exist for these ETNOs to have the orbits they have.
“It is important to note that our work does not explicitly exclude Planet X / Planet 9,” the article reads, “Instead, we have shown that given the current set of ETNOs from well-characterized surveys, there is no evidence to rule out a null hypothesis.” “