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Niku, Drac and L91 Perturbed by Planet Nine…or Something Else?

Dr Konstantin Batygin and Dr Mike Brown argue in their latest paper that the retrograde Kuiper Belt Objects Niku and Drac could have once been extended scattered disk objects (1).  If you have been following these blogs during 2016, it will come as no surprise to you to hear that the influence which perturbed them into their anomalous current orbits was Planet Nine, the 10+Earth-mass planet lurking several hundred-plus Astronomical Units away, whose gravitational influence seems to be influencing the objects in and beyond the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune (2):

“Adopting the same parameters for Planet Nine as those previously invoked to explain the clustering of distant Kuiper belt orbits in physical space, we carry out a series of numerical experiments which elucidate the physical process though which highly inclined Kuiper belt objects with semi-major axes smaller than a < 100 AU are generated. The identified dynamical pathway demonstrates that enigmatic members of the Kuiper belt such as Drac and Niku are derived from the extended scattered disk of the solar system.” (1) Read More…

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Massive Planet X Now Urgently Sought by Top Planet-Hunters

We seem to be getting very close now to a discovery of a massive Planet X in the outer solar system.  I heard this report on the evening BBC news, a slot which indicates the seriousness with which this subject is now being taken by the scientific community:

“American astronomers say they have strong evidence that there is a ninth planet in our Solar System orbiting far beyond even the dwarf world Pluto.  The team, from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), has no direct observations to confirm its presence just yet.  Rather, the scientists make the claim based on the way other far-flung objects are seen to move.  But if correct, the putative planet would have 10 times the mass of Earth.

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