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A Gravitational Explanation for ‘Detached Objects’

5 Jun 2018, 18:07 UTC
A Gravitational Explanation for ‘Detached Objects’
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Things always get interesting when the American Astronomical Society meets, which it is now doing in Denver, in sessions that will run until June 7. There should be no shortage of topics emerging from the meeting, but the first that caught my eye was a different approach to the putative world some are calling Planet Nine. Teasing out the existence of a planet at the outer edges of the Solar System has involved looking at gravitational interactions among objects that we do know about, and extrapolating the presence of a far more massive body.
But the methodology may be flawed, if new work from Ann-Marie Madigan and colleagues at the University of Colorado Boulder is correct. At a press briefing at the AAS meeting, the team presented its view that objects like Sedna, an outlier that takes more than 11,000 years to complete an orbit around the Sun, should be considered in relation to other so-called ‘detached bodies.’ Almost 13 billion kilometers out, Sedna is one of a collection of such objects that appear in some ways to be in another category from the more conventional inner worlds.

Image: An artist’s rendering of Sedna, which looks reddish in color in ...

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