Observing a planet 336 light-years away from Earth could help scientists learn more about whether there is a large “planet nine” orThe tenth planetLurk in the outskirts of our solar system.
why does it matter: Scientists have been searching for the hypothetical ninth planet for years. The new characterization of this strange planet by the Hubble Space Telescope shows that worlds like the theoretical one can exist in other solar systems.
details: An exoplanet “is very widely separated from its host stars in an extremely eccentric and skewed orbit, just like the prediction for Planet Nine,” Meiji Nguyen, author of the book New study Around the planet in The Astronomical Journal He said in statement.
- “This raises the question of how these planets were formed and evolved to end up in their current formation.”
- The double star system in which the planet was found is relatively young, is 15 million years old, indicating that these types of worlds could have formed early in the history of their solar systems.
- Scientists suggest that the planet may have ended up in its strange orbit because it was further away from its stars at some point in the past.
The Big Picture: Researchers believe that Planet Nine may be present in our solar system due to the strange orbits of a group of objects beyond Neptune in what is known as the Kuiper belt.
- Advocates of the theory point out that the gravitational pull of a large planet in a strange orbit might shape the way these other objects move.
- The exoplanet studied by Hubble could be a good model of what the early history of Planet Nine in our solar system could have looked like.
- “It feels as if we have a time machine for our planetary system going back 4.6 billion years to see what would happen when our young solar system was dynamically active and everything was spinning around and being rearranged,” Paul Callas, another study author, said in the statement.