By: Andrew Utz ~Staff Writer~
Evidence of a possible new planet was recently discovered by physicists lurking on the outskirts of the solar system and has some people thinking that the end of Earth is near. California Technical Institute physicists Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin announced they had evidence of a new planet on the farthest edge of the solar system.
The announcement was made on Jan. 20, though this planet’s existence has not been confirmed visually. Instead, the duo determined Planet Nine’s existence using mathematics. Similar to Neptune’s discovery in 1846, changes to other observed orbital patterns hinted at Planet Nine’s existence.
Smaller dwarf planets on similar paths as Pluto have orbits which are too similiar to be natural. Brown and Batygin believe a larger body, such as a planet, adjusted their orbits with its own gravity.
Their calculations show that the planet must be roughly 10 times the size of Earth. The announcement sparked a lively debate with conspiracy theorists. Some people believe that this is actually Planet X, a hypothetical planet which would lurk at the edge of our solar system.
Its orbit would cause it to come near and potentially hit Earth in what is hypothesized as the Nibiru Cataclysm. There are a few facts that nullify this theory. Primarily, with the lack of solid evidence, Planet Nine may not actually exist. The hypothesis drawn up by Brown and Batygin is a conjecture based on data points from other spacial bodies orbiting the sun. Secondly, if a planet were to collide with Earth any time soon, scientists would likely know already.
Planets and other space objects tend to be noticed quickly by astronomers, and their paths toward Earth are projected ahead of time. Senior NASA scientist David Morrison said that the event of another planet’s collision with Earth would be apparent to everyone who looks at the sky long before something like that actually happened.
“If there were anything out there like a planet headed for Earth, it would already be (one of the) brightest objects in the sky,” Morrison said. “Everybody on Earth could see it. You don’t need to ask the government, just go out and look. It’s not there.”
Finally, Planet Nine’s calculated trajectory never gets near our solar system. By the calculations presented, Planet Nine would be roughly 19 billion miles from the Sun. To put this in perspective, Earth is 93 million miles from the Sun. Neptune, the furthest planet, is 571.9 million miles away.
There is still research being done on how valid Brown and Batygin’s hypothesis is, but the solar system will remain an eight-planet system until this potential new planet can be seen.