Planet Nine – no it is not Pluto. We are here dealing with a hypothetical planet that may or may not exist. There has been a long-standing debate regarding this and there are two distinct schools – the Believers and the Skeptics. Those who believe say that Planet Nine exists and is far out on an orbit that we haven’t yet found. Those who are say that there is no such planet revolving our Sun. Now, the question is, ‘why on Earth are skeptics so skeptical about the very existence of this ninth planet?’
Till date they only said that planet cannot exist. Just like the planet’s existence is hypothetical, the skeptics too didn’t have a solid base for their skepticism. However, now they actually have data to back up their claim. Instead of a real photograph (which literally isn’t happening anytime soon), the skeptics are now hinging on a mathematical model and computer simulations to say that the aforesaid planet is purely hypothetical and doesn’t exist in the realms of reality.
Computer Simulations for the Existence of Planet Nine
Now, where are these computer simulations coming from that the skeptics are using? The credit for these models go to Fred Adams and Gongjie Li – the two astronomers from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. They published their study in Astrophysical Journal Letter. The new study by these two astronomers can be found here.
The two learned men ran millions of computer simulations to ascertain whether the ninth planet actually exists or not. In fact, they actual thing they did was to find out how, if at all the planet exists, it entered Solar System in which we live? The computers today are smart and hence, out of the millions of those simulations, the computers actually chose three best possibilities. Let us take a look at them one by one.
Simulation Model 1 for Planet Nine
One of the three narrowed down options say that the so called ninth planet was actually pretty close to our Sun. However, some time in distant past, a star passed by our Solar System. The gravity of the star was strong enough to pull the ninth planet far out from the Sun and gave it an elliptical orbit. The possibility of this happening is just 10% as per the computer simulations because most of the times, if a star passes by another Solar System, it actually ends up dragging a planet or two into its very own system instead of dragging them far and leaving them behind with their original Sun.
Simulation Model 2 for Planet Nine
If a passing star can pull out a planet from our Solar System, is it not possible that our Sun did the same? Well, this second possibility says that may be our Sun actually flew by another Solar System and pulled out a planet and brought it to its new home. Possible but according to the computers, the possibility of this happening is just 2%.
This same model also says that may be the Planet Nine was actually a lonely planet floating around in the void aimlessly and getting close enough to our Sun to be dragged into an orbit and ever since then, it has been out there, traveling around our Sun in an elliptical orbit. Again, the computers say that the possibility is 2% or less.
Simulation Model 3 for Planet Nine
This is the final best model chosen by the computers. However, sadly enough, this too isn’t a promising one as one would like it to be. Here the simulation takes a different route and says that may be the Planet Nine was actually formed along with Neptune and Jupiter. However, the three planets started competing with each other in a war of gravitational supremacy and the ninth planet turned out to be ill-fated, losing the war once and for all when the competing gravities flung out the planet far into deep space. Doomed for eternity, the planet now travels around the Sun in a super elongated elliptical orbit where one complete orbit around the Sun takes anywhere between 10 to 20 thousand years!
What’s the problem with this possibility? A serious one actually. For this model to be true, Planet Nine must have been formed very early during the Sun’s existence till now. At that early stage, other stars were actually pretty close to Sun. If the war of gravity flung out the ninth planet in the proposed orbit, other nearby stars back then would have easily dragged the planet into their own systems and carried it away. This takes us back to simulation model 1.
Now, since the possibilities are very low, skeptics have become audible that the Planet Nine doesn’t exist. However, there is one problem. There is no model which says ZERO possibility. Unless the possibility is zero, the chances of Planet Nine actually existing out there cannot be completely discarded. So, what do you think? The ninth planet exists or it is just a hypothetical orb existing only in our minds? Drop a comment to let us know your thoughts.