Computer Models Predict a Massive World beyond Neptune
This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. The planet could be be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side.Credit: Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)
The big news today involves a new world in the outer region of the solar system called the Kuiper Belt. Although it hasn’t actually been seen yet, planetary scientists at California Institute of Technology (CalTech) announced that they’ve found evidence for what may be a giant planet on a weird orbit out in the far reaches of our own solar system. Let that sink in for a moment.
If it turns out this object really exists, then it would be a candidate for planet-hood. Not only that, but it would help fill in a gap in early solar system history. It’s quite possible that this world formed as one of five planetary “cores”. Four of them ended up as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. “Core 5” could have gotten too close to one of the other gas giants early in the solar system’s history, and gotten gravitationally kicked out to its present orbit in the far reaches ...