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Planet Nine: All That We Know About This Mysterious World, Potential Threat To Earth?

First Posted: Jun 07, 2016 06:50 AM EDT
Planet Nine
Artist's impression of Planet Nine as an ice giant eclipsing the central Milky Way, with a star-like Sun in the distance. Neptune's orbit is shown as a small ellipse around the Sun. Tomruen, nagualdesign; background taken from File:ESO - Milky Way.jpg / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Astronomers predicted the existence of a ninth planet in the outskirts of the solar system earlier this year in January, since then there have been continuous theories and hypotheses about the mysterious world, with scientists trying to discover more about it. Also termed Planet X, the yet undiscovered celestial body has been theorized to be an exoplanet which the sun stole, to it being the reason dinosaurs were wiped out, to some predicting that it might collide with our planet. Now, a report tells us everything that we know or should know about Planet Nine.

The existence of the planet was first suggested after scientists saw that certain objects near it had a strange movement pattern. One study predicted it to be an exoplanet which was stolen by the Sun from a neighboring star in the Milky Way some 4.5 billion years ago, which would also imply it to be our nearest extrasolar planet, where we can one day travel to in the future. Another research says that Planet X started out as being formed in the early solar system but a collision or other strong process expelled it to the outer peripheries.  

Regarding its structure, some researchers used computer models to forward the theory that the ninth planet was an icy planet, akin to Neptune. Another branch of astronomers, believe that Planet X is actually more like Uranus due to its layers of helium/hydrogen, water ice shell, silicate mantle and iron core, with a temperature of about -226°C, mostly caused by internal heat than through sunlight.

In spite of using a wide array of telescopes, astronomers have still not been able to spot it, and the reason for this could reportedly be its size. The planet is just 3.7 times the size of the Earth, compared to the previous estimations of 10 times, making it hard to spot with existing instruments. Scientists are, however, speculating that with more advanced telescopes in the future, such as the James Webb telescope, locating the ninth planet might become a more viable task.

However, one of the main concerns about Planet Nine seemed to revolve around the question, would it wipe us out? According to a report, the planet's orbit probably falls between 200 and 1,200-2,000 AU, which indicates that we are farther away from it than we are from the sun, hence it does not threaten our planet, irrespective of what conspiracy theorists want to believe. Meanwhile, astronomers have speculated that it will take at least a few more years before we detect the elusive world.

 

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