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Planet 9? Or a Black Hole?

10 Jul 2020, 01:50 UTC
Planet 9? Or a Black Hole?
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Remember hearing about Planet 9 a while back? That’s astronomer Mike Brown’s designation for a planet that he thinks is out there in the outer solar system. So far, it remains elusive, despite everybody’s best observational efforts. (Of course, we already have a planet 9, called Pluto, so to avoid confusion, it sometimes gets referred to as Planet X.)

So, why does Mike thinks he’s got gravitational evidence of a massive world somewhere out in the Kuiper Belt? Essentially, he has observed the changes in orbital motions of bodies “out there”, and imputes those changes to the gravitational effect of a planet hiding somewhere. If it exists as a planet (and not, say, a loosely-bound clump of large planetoids or something), then eventually someone should be able to catch a glimpse of it as it reflects light, or emits a little heat (since it would be warmer than surrounding space). But, so far, nobody’s seen this possible planet.

Black Holes in the Outer Solar System

What if it’s not a planet? What if it’s something massive, but not another world? Say, like a black hole? That’s the conjecture behind a new method that two astronomers at Harvard have devised. ...

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