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Thread: What and where is Planet X?

  1. #1
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    What and where is Planet X?

    I'm sure we have all heard of Planet X. The proposed planet whose orbit is further out than Pluto. In fact, Pluto was found because of Planet X.
    For centuries, humans thought that there were only 6 planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. But as science advanced, astronomers realized that Saturn's orbit isn't as it should be with only 6 planets, and the hunt began. Soon, Uranus was found, and our solar system all of a sudden was less empty. But just like Saturn, Uranus' orbit isn't as it should be, and the hunt began again for yet another planet. Thus, Neptune joined our solar system. But again, under close examination, Neptune's orbit isn't as it should be, and the hunt began AGAIN. After hunting for years for another planet that was tugging on not only Neptune, but the other planets as well, astronomers finally discover Pluto, of which seemed to have ended the Planet X hunt. However, there was one problem, Pluto is smaller than our own moon. It's impossible for Pluto's small amount of gravity to have the power to alter a planet's orbit such as Neptune's. And the hunt began yet again, and it has been going on since that very realization came to be.
    Many theories have come up over the years about what and where Planet X might be. From the favored theory of a dark gas giant with its orbit inside the Oort Cloud, just outside the reach of our telescopes. To the crazy theories such as Planet X actually being a red dwarf star with a 25 million year orbit.
    Interestingly though, there is a disturbance in the Oort Cloud that is making some of the comets in it to gather around a central source of gravity. Have we possibly found Planet X's position?
    Anyway, I know I just posted many of the theories out there, but I was hoping on getting more of them and possibly starting a discussion on this topic. I would love to know what you people think of it.

  2. #2
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    Many theories have come up over the years about what and where Planet X might be. From the favored theory of a dark gas giant with its orbit inside the Oort Cloud, just outside the reach of our telescopes. To the crazy theories such as Planet X actually being a red dwarf star with a 25 million year orbit.
    Interestingly though, there is a disturbance in the Oort Cloud that is making some of the comets in it to gather around a central source of gravity. Have we possibly found Planet X's position?
    if the Oort Cloud is "just outside the reach of our telescopes", whatever that means as we have the Hubble deep sky photos, how do we know of the disturbance in the said Oort cloud?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris2 View Post
    if the Oort Cloud is "just outside the reach of our telescopes", whatever that means as we have the Hubble deep sky photos, how do we know of the disturbance in the said Oort cloud?
    I worded that slightly wrong. What I meant by "just out of reach of our telescopes" is that the planet could be very dark and not reflect a lot of light just like some asteroids do. We can track the comets because they are mostly made of ice and reflect a lot light, so the telescopes can pick them up quite easily.

  4. #4
    Valued Senior Member Janus58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Electro522 View Post
    I'm sure we have all heard of Planet X. The proposed planet whose orbit is further out than Pluto. In fact, Pluto was found because of Planet X.
    For centuries, humans thought that there were only 6 planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. But as science advanced, astronomers realized that Saturn's orbit isn't as it should be with only 6 planets, and the hunt began. Soon, Uranus was found, and our solar system all of a sudden was less empty. But just like Saturn, Uranus' orbit isn't as it should be, and the hunt began again for yet another planet. Thus, Neptune joined our solar system. But again, under close examination, Neptune's orbit isn't as it should be, and the hunt began AGAIN. After hunting for years for another planet that was tugging on not only Neptune, but the other planets as well, astronomers finally discover Pluto, of which seemed to have ended the Planet X hunt. However, there was one problem, Pluto is smaller than our own moon. It's impossible for Pluto's small amount of gravity to have the power to alter a planet's orbit such as Neptune's. And the hunt began yet again, and it has been going on since that very realization came to be.
    Many theories have come up over the years about what and where Planet X might be. From the favored theory of a dark gas giant with its orbit inside the Oort Cloud, just outside the reach of our telescopes. To the crazy theories such as Planet X actually being a red dwarf star with a 25 million year orbit.
    Sorry. The supposed deviations of Neptune's orbit have been shown by studies to be most likely errors in observations of the time combined with an overestimation of Uranus' mass rather than actual perturbations by some unknown planet. The majority of professionals in the field no longer accept the existence of "Planet X".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janus58 View Post
    Sorry. The supposed deviations of Neptune's orbit have been shown by studies to be most likely errors in observations of the time combined with an overestimation of Uranus' mass rather than actual perturbations by some unknown planet. The majority of professionals in the field no longer accept the existence of "Planet X".
    Thank you Janus, I did not know that. But that still leaves the question, what is creating the gravity thats making the comets gather around a central point? Any ideas?

  6. #6
    Valued Senior Member Rhaedas's Avatar
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    Bodies in the outer parts of the system aren't moving very fast, so it wouldn't take much disturbance to send them sunwards. I don't even think you need a large companion to the Sun, just a close pass by a Kuiper sized object might be enough, and since there seems to be no reason why they aren't out there in various places, we get the occasional incoming cometary body (that probably started its journey a long time ago).

    If there was a single large body stirring things up, wouldn't we see bias towards a certain area as far as a comet source? Do we?

  7. #7
    Be kind to yourself always. cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    What and where is Planet X?
    Next to planet Y, everyone knows that.

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    But that still leaves the question, what is creating the gravity thats making the comets gather around a central point?
    do you have a reference for this please as it is the first time i have heard of it. thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris2 View Post
    do you have a reference for this please as it is the first time i have heard of it. thanks.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/sc...t-2213119.html

    I hope this helps Boris.

  10. #10
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    Janus, you should read the article I just posted. It doesn't explain Neptune's orbit, but it does try to answer my question of the comets in the Oort Cloud. It is very interesting.

  11. #11
    Valued Senior Member Janus58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Electro522 View Post
    Janus, you should read the article I just posted. It doesn't explain Neptune's orbit, but it does try to answer my question of the comets in the Oort Cloud. It is very interesting.
    Here's the thing. The article is a bit over-sensationalized. For instance, it says "... scientists now believe the proof of its existence has already been gathered by a Nasa space telescope, Wise, and is just waiting to be analyzed.", as if there were some type of consensus about this, when in fact, it is just two researchers who are hoping that the data will confirm a theory that they first proposed in 1999.

    Also note that the article is a year old, with no new news on confirmation since then.

    That's not to say that such a body may still be found in the data yet to be analyzed, but the article does overplay how much actual support this idea has among the science community as a whole.

  12. #12
    Valued Senior Member Rhaedas's Avatar
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    Commentary of the article points out an answer to my question about comets, stating that we've recorded approximately 1200 comets in the past few hundred years, and there's no clear bias on a direction they are coming from.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Electro522 View Post
    Interestingly though, there is a disturbance in the Oort Cloud that is making some of the comets in it to gather around a central source of gravity. Have we possibly found Planet X's position?
    Quote Originally Posted by Boris2 View Post
    do you have a reference for this please as it is the first time i have heard of it. thanks.
    Matese and Whitmire "Planet X and the origins of the shower and steady state flux of short-period comets." Icarus 65, 37-50 (1986)

    Matese and Whitmire, "Persistent Evidence of a Jovian Mass Solar Companion in the Oort Cloud" Icarus, 211, 926-938 (2011)
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1004.4584
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...19103510004288

    According to this next paper, if there is such a thing it is far away (3500 AU or more)

    Iorio, "Constraints on the location of a putative distant massive body in the Solar System from recent planetary data" Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy (in press)

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1101.2634

    But Matese and Whitmire I think are grasping at straws. I don't think they provide sufficient evidence of where in the sky Tyche should be. "One thing worth noting about the analysis done by Matese and Whitmire is the relatively small number of comets studied in their report. To be sure, they did study all the comets from the Outer Oort Cloud known to us, but 102 comets are just not enough to make a statistical signal stand out significantly above the noise. For example, the bias found in the study means that they found only about 5 too many comets with low orbital tilts when the 102 comets are sorted into 5 bins between 0 and 90 degree inclinations. The study also indicates that there are several possible fits to the common orbital plane shared by these Outer Oort Cloud comets, so the orbital constraints for this new planet are also not very tight."

    http://arstechnica.com/science/news/...-the-story.ars

    If they are right, however, we have a good chance of seeing it show up in the data:
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WI...e20110218.html

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