Recently, scientists shockingly announced that they believe there are at least 2 planets exist beyond Pluto and that they are definitely larger than Earth.
What they call ‘Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects’ (ETNOs) were analyzed by scientists from the Complutense University of Madrid.
By an observational bias, their paths must fulfill a series of characteristics. For example, according to the established theory, objects beyond Pluto must have a semi-major axis – the axis which defines a planet’s farthest point from the sun – with a value close to 150 AU (or 150 times the distance between the Earth and the sun; by contrast, Pluto’s orbit has a semi-major axis of 39 AU). Plus, according to the theory, their orbits must be inclined to the plane of the solar system by almost 0°.
Yet this isn’t what astronomers observe a dozen of known small bodies beyond Pluto. The values of the semi-major axis are between 150 AU and 525 AU. The average inclination of their orbits is around 20°.
In other words, solar system theory doesn’t match what is observed. When that happens, astronomers left puzzled. These astronomers believe the reason is that there are unknown large planets out on the fringes of the solar system, waiting to be discovered.
Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, astrophysicist at the UCM and co-author of the study, said in a press release:
The exact number is uncertain, given that the data that we have is limited, but our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets, and probably more, within the confines of our solar system.”
To carry out the study, the researchers analyzed the effects of the so-called Kozai mechanism. In celestial mechanics, this mechanism describes the way that the gravity of a large body can exert an influence on the orbit of another body that is smaller and farther away object. As a reference, they looked at the way this mechanism works in the case of a short-period comet called 96P/Machholz1, which is under the influence of Jupiter.
However, scientists say that they come up with several problems along the way of conclusion that might get these researchers to be looking for orbits or for small objects in the outer solar system.
With all of these, as an afterthought, since Pluto was discovered in 1930, astronomers have been speculating about possible large planets beyond it. But no additional large planets have been found at the edge of our solar system. New calculations by astronomers in Spain and the UK suggest that not one, but two unknown planets might exist in our solar system, beyond Pluto’s orbit.
credits to earthsky.org