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  • Mahee Desai

A Hunt Beyond Our Knowledge

Astronomers have decided that the solar system extended until the Kuiper belt, but have you ever wondered about the celestial bodies beyond the borders of our solar system’s reach -too far to orbit the sun- waiting to be discovered.


It was observed that a few objects in the distant Kuiper Belt started behaving strangely. They had oddly started clustering and tilting, and all moved in the same direction which is very unlikely. Some odd and unobserved gravitational force seemed to have been tugging on them and since there was no other celestial body in the area, Planet 9 could be the only answer.


Planet 9 would have developed inside the solar system, around another star or in a rotating disc, called the Protoplanetary Disc, which helps in the formation of the celestial bodies and asteroids. In such a case, the planet would have been pulled to our solar system by the gravity of the Sun. This would make it an extrasolar planet which are planets formed around other stars and are very far away which makes their study very difficult.


This planet would be ten times bigger than planet Earth and its orbit would extend far beyond Pluto's and the Kuiper Belt. If this is an actual planet then it will most certainly be the biggest rocky planet or the smallest gas giant in our solar system. It will also be a hundred billion miles away from the Sun which is why scientists think that there may not be life on this planet due to the lack of sunlight. Its closest path from the Sun would be ninety billion miles away while the farthest would be a whopping hundred and twelve billion miles away. Due to its enormous size, it may also have a great gravitational force which could be the reason for the unusual behaviour of the objects in the Kuiper Belt.


Now, the main question that arises here would be: what kind of a planet could be Planet 9? Could it be a rocky planet like Earth, Mercury, Venus and Mars, a gas giant like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune or just another asteroid in the Kuiper Belt? It could even be a fire planet consisting of volcanoes bubbling with boiling lava, or it could be a giant ice ball with slushy water bodies. It could also be made of the same elements and rocks as Earth. Every star system usually contains one Super-Earth and scientists have found it surprising that the solar system does not have one. Could this planet be our Super-Earth?


Scientists believe that if this planet is rocky, then it would have been made of the same material as Earth or by the ice in outer space. We have very little information about how it would have formed due to its extreme distance from the Sun and planet Earth.


If it is a gas planet, it will most certainly be smaller compared to the other gas giants in the solar system. You see, rocky planets only grow to a certain size because they are heavier while gas planets can grow to huge sizes. Neptune is currently the smallest gas planet and can fit about 57 Earth inside it by volume, while Jupiter, being the largest gas giant, would be able to accommodate more than 1300 Earth inside it!


A stunning fact about this planet is that it could perhaps be home to a family of moons. It is said by many that moons are great places where life can be possible. One of the moons of Planet 9 may also be able to sustain life on it. However, scientists have so far found no traces of a moon suitable for life on.


The existence of this distant planet is only theoretical. Nevertheless astronomers are still in search of this hypothetical planet and the only proof they have about the existence of this planet is the way it influences the other planets and asteroids. However, if it does turn out to be a planet, then it would be a great revelation indeed!


Bibliography:

  1. Barnett, Amanda. ”Hypothetical Planet X” NASA Science. 19 Dec, 2019. Web. 24 Feb, 2022.



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