Can A Rogue Planet Really Exist In The Solar System?

A rogue planet is on a course that places it within earth’s vicinity. Planet Nine has been on the ‘horizon’ for several years. Astrophysicists Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown have talked about a giant, rogue planet in our solar system called Planet X, Tyche, or Nibiru. Evidently, NASA has known about this mystery planet for years, but declined to discuss any eventual outcome.

Zecharia Sitchin, renowned researcher and author, has stated that Planet X flies through space in a highly elliptical orbit, approaching earth from the south at an angle, then sling-shotting around the backside of the sun before exiting back out of our solar system every 3600-years. It’s also known one can only see this brown dwarf approaching low on the horizon from a vantage point of the earth’s southern hemisphere.

Per Wikipedia: Sitchin’s interpretation reveals an undiscovered planet beyond Neptune following a long, elliptical orbit, reaching the inner solar system. This planet is called Nibiru, but it has not been seen directly yet.

Over the last few years countless scientists and peer-reviewed studies, have documented the moon, sun and earth are not in their normal orbits. There has been a change in weather, seasons, tides, volcanic activity, and tectonic activity. More tornadoes are striking earlier in the year. For years governments knew there might be an approaching celestial body, thought to be a brown dwarf star.

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Washington Post (1983): A heavenly body possibly as large as the giant planet Jupiter and possibly so close to Earth and part of this solar system has been found in the direction of the constellation Orion by an orbiting telescope aboard the U.S. infrared astronomical satellite. So mysterious is the object astronomers do not know if it is a planet, a giant comet, or a nearby “protostar” which never got hot enough to become a star. “All I can tell you is that we don’t know what it is,” from Dr. Gerry Neugebauer, scientist for California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Much earlier, Percival Lowell, who insisted that a world he called Planet X, was waiting to be discovered way past the orbit of Neptune. Lowell’s convictions triggered a decades-long race to find this Planet X, and resulted in the discovery of Pluto in 1930. But Pluto was too small to explain what Lowell saw in small oddities in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune.

In other journals, the rogue planet is called Tyche, but still has the elongated orbit tilted to the general plane of the solar system. Its 3600-year elliptical orbit pattern usually stays within the Kuiper Belt, but outside of the solar system, has held Planet 9 for thousands of years. Analyses have shown distant orbits within the scattered population of the Kuiper Belt exhibit an unexpected clustering in their orbits of perihelion. The orbits of distant Kuiper Belt objects, KBOs, cluster in alignment of perihelion, as well as in physical space.

Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet with a highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object has a mass about 10 times of Earth, and orbits 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (2.8 billion miles from sun). It would take Tyche, between 10,000-20,000 years to make a full orbit. Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown discovered the planet’s existence through mathematical modeling. They have not yet seen the planet with their own eyes. “This would be a real ninth planet,” says Brown. “There have only been two true planets discovered since ancient times, and this would be a third. It’s a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that’s still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting.”

Brown says the ninth planet is 5,000 times the mass of Pluto, and it would be a true planet. Planet Nine gravitationally dominates a huge region in the solar system. Batygin and Brown describe their work in the Astronomical Journal, and show how Planet Nine affects orbits in the Kuiper Belt. “Although we were initially quite skeptical that this planet could exist, as we continued to investigate its orbit and what it would mean for the outer solar system, we become increasingly convinced that it is out there,” says Batygin. “For the first time in over 150 years, there is solid evidence that the solar system’s planetary census is incomplete.”

Unbelievably, 13 of the most distant objects in the Kuiper Belt have a strange orbit. This directly suggested the possibility of a small planet. Fairly quickly Batygin and Brown realized the six most distant objects from the original collection all follow elliptical orbits pointing in the same direction. The outermost points of their orbits move around the solar system at different rates. But the orbits of the six objects are also all tilted in the same way-pointing about 30 degrees downward to the plane of the eight known planets, with a probability of only 0.007 percent. “Basically it shouldn’t happen randomly,” Brown says. “So we thought something else must be shaping these orbits.”

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A predicted consequence of Planet Nine is a second set of confined objects should also exist. These objects are forced into positions at right angles to Planet Nine and into orbits perpendicular to the plane of the solar system. Five known objects (blue) fit this prediction precisely.
Credit: Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC) [Diagram by WorldWide Telescope.]

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The six most distant known objects in the solar system with orbits beyond Neptune (magenta) all mysteriously line-up in a single direction. Also, when viewed in three dimensions, they tilt nearly away from the plane of the solar system. Batygin and Brown show a planet with 10x mass of the earth in a distant eccentric orbit anti-aligned with the other six objects (orange) is required to maintain this configuration. Evidence of a Ninth Planet Caltech’s Konstantin Batygin, a professor of planetary science, and Mike Brown of Planetary Astronomy, discuss a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system.

Credit: Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC); [Diagram by WorldWide Telescope.]

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  1. Batygin and M. E. Brown Astronom. J. 151, 22 (2016)

The first option considered was enough distant Kuiper Belt objects needed to keep the subpopulation clustered. That was quickly ruled out knowing they understood the Kuiper Belt to have more than 100 times its current mass. Their first instinct was to run simulations involving a planet in a distant orbit the six Kuiper Belt objects. Then, Batygin and Brown noticed if they ran their simulations with a massive planet in an anti-aligned orbit, the distant Kuiper Belt objects assumed the alignment as well.

Evidently, the orbital geometry can’t be right. It can’t be stable over the long term because this the planet and these objects would eventually collide. But through a mechanism known as mean-motion resonance, the anti-aligned orbit of the ninth planet actually prevents Kuiper Belt objects from colliding. For every four orbits Planet Nine makes, a distant Kuiper Belt object might complete nine orbits – but no collisions. Instead, Planet Nine slightly moves the orbits of Kuiper Belt objects preserving the planet. Batygin had never seen anything like this in celestial mechanics.

Planet Nine’s existence explains alignment of Kuiper Belt objects, and mysterious orbits two of them have. The first of those objects, dubbed Sedna, was discovered by Brown in 2003. Unlike standard-variety Kuiper Belt objects, it never gets very close to Neptune. A second object, known as 2012 VP113, was announced 2014.

Described in the Astronomical Journal, the gravitational signature of a large planet is written into the peculiar orbits of these worlds. These Kuiper Belt objects trace odd circles around the sun puzzling scientists worldwide. It was calculated Planet 9 would be 10 times more massive than Earth, and three times larger. A type of planet the galaxy is incredibly efficient at assembling, but has been conspicuously absent from our own solar system. “This thing is on an exceptionally frigid, long-period orbit, and probably takes on the order of 20,000 years to make one full revolution around the sun,” says Caltech’s Konstantin Batygin.

Simulated structure of planet candidate 9.

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Credit: © Esther Linder, Christoph Mordasini, Universität Bern

Brown and Batygin optimistically know Planet Nine will be found in less than five years.

Kevin Roeten
A former Chemical Engineer, Kevin Roeten enjoys riding the third rail of journalism: politics and religion. He is a Guest Columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times, and the Independent (Ohio), writes for numerous blogs, is an amateur astronomer, and delves into scientific topics.