Mysterious ‘Planet 9’ might not be a planet at all

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If the theory is correct, it would mean that there is no Planet Nine, but that there's potentially thousands of smaller, undetected objects cruising around near the edge of our system.

This research was supported by NASA Solar System Workings and the Rocky Mountain Advanced Computing Consortium Summit Supercomputer.

Ann-Marie Madigan, an assistant professor in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder), says that the Kupier Belt is a lot more dynamic than we imagine. This minor planet orbits Earth's sun at a distance of 8 billion miles but appears separated from the rest of the solar system.

"He came into my office one day and says, 'I'm seeing some really cool stuff here, '" Madigan said.

Scientists quantified the orbits of Sedna and its ilk may result from these bodies jostling against each other and space debris in the outer solar system.

Dwarf planets like Sedna, reports Cnet, have unusual orbits around the Sun and one of the reasons for this could be a yet-to-be-seen ninth planet that is large enough, or with enough mass to exert gravitational tugs on them.

The natural process is that massive minor planets are naturally detached by the interaction of different gravities from the objects.

Artist's rendition on the dwarf planet Sedna, which looks reddish in color in telescope images. Using the simulations, they had calculated that the orbits of icy objects beyond Neptune circle the sun like the hands of a clock.

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The work explaining the collective gravity theory was presented at a press briefing at the 232nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society, which runs from June 3-7 in Denver.

"You see a pileup of the orbits of smaller objects to one side of the sun", Jacob Fleisig, an undergraduate astrophysics major at University of Colorado at Boulder and lead author, said.

"These orbits crash into the bigger body, and what happens is those interaction will change its orbit from an oval shape to a more circular shape".

This theory matches a 2012 finding showing the larger a detached TNO becomes, the more distant its orbit gets from the Sun.

This swarm of asteroids may also be able to mess with the orbits of comets and other asteroids, and under the right conditions (researchers estimate roughly every 30 million years) the rogue asteroid in question will end up on a collision course with Earth.

"The picture we have in our head is a lot of little moons floating around the solar system, interacting with comets", Madigan told reporters yesterday during a news conference, notes Space.com. And the fact that the orbits all tilt the same way - neatly explained by Planet Nine - can not be explained by the collective gravity hypothesis.

Remarkably, these relatively insignificant objects may also be culpable in the extinction of the dinosaurs.

According to the team, the dinosaur-killing asteroid that hammered our planet 65 million years ago, wiping out almost 75 percent of life on Earth, could have been sent on its collision path by the periodic comet showers that turned up in Fleisig's computer model.

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