Mythical ‘Planet 9’ might actually just be a bunch of very rude asteroids

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Speaking at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Jacob Fleisig of the University of Colorado at Boulder presented a tantalizing new bit of research. Fleisig, an undergraduate in astrophysics, and his team of researchers suggest that perhaps a large singular body isn’t what is causing the symptoms of Planet 9, but instead a large grouping of asteroids that are pulling on neighboring bodies.

Many astronomers point to the peculiar movements of bodies in the outer reaches of the Solar System as proof — or at least evidence — that something else is hiding there. Many well-documented objects appear to move in a way that would only be possible if a large body was exerting gravity upon them. Calculations have put the size of the unknown planet at up to ten times the mass of Earth, but Fleisig’s team is reimagining things.

The researchers calculated the mass of hundreds of trans-Neptunian objects and discovered that it wouldn’t be a stretch for similar bodies to create enough gravitational pull to yank objects as large as dwarf planets into bizarre orbits. If the theory is correct, it would mean that there is no Planet Nine, but that there’s potentially thousands of smaller, undetected objects cruising around near the edge of our system. – READ MORE

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