According to researchers, rebel trans-Neptunian objects are being influenced by a mysterious, massive object beyond the orbit of Neptune. So far, astronomers have discovered four objects with highly anomalous characteristics. All of the four objects have retrograde or nearly retrograde (meaning is orbit is inclined by less than, but close to, 90 degrees) and were also highly tilted.
Experts have found that a trans-Neptunian object known as 2011 KT19, discovered by scientists last August and nicknamed “Niku” (rebel in Chinese), seems to be aligned with five other anomalous objects, reports the Space.com.
Researchers concluded this after observing its unusual orbit around the sun.
‘Niku‘ was discovered by astronomers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS).
Among its many oddities, the authors of the discovery emphasize that the enigmatic object moves in ascending order, some 110 degrees from the plane of the solar system.
Furthermore, the object swings backward around the sun, unlike all other objects within our solar system. All of this –say researchers— may be the ultimate evidence that a MASSIVE planet exists somewhere out there.
It’s there; we simply haven’t observed it yet
The retrograde and extremely inclined nature of NIKU’s orbit, and that of another TNO nicknamed DRAC has led experts to try and determine whether or not there are unknown objects of similar characteristics lurking the outer frontier of our solar system.
Space.com reports that astronomers have discovered four objects with highly anomalous features. All of the four objects have retrograde or nearly retrograde (meaning is orbit is inclined by less than, but close to, 90 degrees) and were also highly tilted.
Two of these objects are centaurs, bodies orbiting between Jupiter and Neptune.
The mysterious part of all of this is that all six objects spotted by astronomers appear to orbit within a common plane. This, according to experts, could be a tell-tale sign of a larger body somewhere out there.
Speaking to space.com, study co-author Matthew Payne, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts said: “They’re not randomly distributed in the sky — they all seem to be aligned.”
Speaking to the New Scientists, Matthew Holman, a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center sad: “It suggests that there’s more going on in the outer solar system than we’re fully aware of.”
Konstantin Batygin, one of the scientists who is hunting for Planet Nine says: “Whenever you have some feature that you can’t explain in the outer solar system, it’s immensely exciting because it’s in some sense foreshadowing a new development.”
Experts believe planet nine is around 7.5 times the diameter of Earth and ten times the mass. While this is really massive, that’s still smaller than Jupiter though.