A giant planet is actually hiding in our solar system

Scientists believe they have proven the existence of a giant planet in our solar system, the problem is that it is hidden by distance and light.

By Phillip Moyer | Published

planet 9 new earth-like planet

The solar system does not move as we expected. It’s not much – we can only tell from the orbits of distant objects much further away than the dwarf planet Pluto. But according to ScienceAlert, the reason seems clear: there’s a giant planet, somewhere far beyond the icy Kuiper Belt, that’s pulling things away from the paths we expect.

The problem is that while scientists Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown have mathematical proof that it should be there, no one has seen it. However, it is not surprising. While the giant planet is expected to be eight times the size of Earth, it is also about 20 times further away than Neptune on average.

This causes two problems. First, the distance means that the giant planet would be far, far smaller in the night sky than most other objects we currently track. It also means that it receives hardly any light from the sun, meaning that it will only be barely visible if visible at all.

There are four objects we know of that are equally distant – although they are too small to cause the gravitational shift that has been detected. These objects, called sednoids, orbit far beyond the so-called “Kuiper rock” – a distance more than 4 billion miles from the Sun, beyond which there seems to be almost nothing at all. In fact, the orbits of these sednoids played a key role in helping Batygin and Brown discover the giant planet’s existence.

However, not all scientists are convinced of the existence of this giant planet. Some say that we have not discovered enough distant objects to prove the existence of this ninth planet, and they assume that we have only discovered objects that maintain these peculiar orbits due to an observational bias. According to these skeptics, it would take the discovery of far more objects outside the Kuiper Rock to confirm that something fishy is going on.

Image of a distant planet from the James Webb telescope

Ultimately, the most conclusive proof of this giant planet’s existence will involve actually finding it in the night sky. It would probably be easiest when the planet is closest to the Sun, where it will be “only” 30 billion miles away. Of course, the planet’s orbit can take up to 20,000 years, so we may have to wait a very long time.

However, there is another way we can detect this giant planet in the sky without having to detect the faint, almost undetectable light reflected from the sun. A recently published paper from the Education University of Hong Kong shows that the planet is very likely to have moons. As these moons orbit the giant planet, they will gain heat from tidal forces.

So if you find the heat, you find the giant planet. Radio telescopes can detect thermal radio emissions, which the heat from tidal forces would give off. And fortunately, Earth has many powerful radio telescopes.

Only time will tell if these radio telescopes can find this hypothetical giant ninth planet. If they fail, that doesn’t necessarily mean the planet isn’t there — but it would be a huge point in the skeptics’ favor.

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