The Oort Cloud, a region of the solar system very far from the Sun, could harbor an icy giant planet. This is the suggestion of a new study, which suggests a world formed alongside Jupiter or Saturn and expelled to the confines of a “cosmic backyard.”
For some time, scientists have been searching for Planet 9, a hypothetical object close to the Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects (ETNOs), which lie far beyond the orbit of Neptune. Now, new work suggests the existence of a world far beyond.
A new planet in the solar system?
The article is accepted in the journal MNRAS messagescalculations showing that there is a 7% chance of a planet hidden in the Oort cloud (a spherical region composed mainly of chunks of ice, considered the final frontier of the solar system).
It’s a “class of planets that definitely should exist but gets relatively little attention,” said Nathan Cape, study co-author and astronomer at the Planetary Science Institute. Are those giant planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune born with “twins” that can be ejected far from their original orbits.
Because they had so much gravity, these massive worlds ended up colliding with their twin, knocking one of them out of the solar system – which, at the time, was still trying to settle down. Thus, the planet could have been captured by a huge number of beings in the Oort Cloud.
said Sean Raymond, a researcher at the Purdue University Astrophysics Laboratory and lead author of the study. This means that the planet’s trajectory will be very elongated.
This eccentric orbit, along with the distance, is one of the reasons they haven’t discovered a planet under these conditions. Also, given that the Oort cloud is circular, rather than a disk like the inner solar system, it could be anywhere in the sky. Therefore, it would only be possible to search for the planet if there was some clue as to which direction the telescope should go.
What is the Oort Cloud?
Current models suggest that the Oort Cloud consists of a few trillion comets more than 1 km in diameter and over 20 km in diameter. It lies at a distance of between 5,000 and 100,000 astronomical units (1 AU is the average distance between Earth and the Sun).
This region is still a mystery to astronomers, for a simple reason: it’s too far away from any solar ray or other sources of light. It is very difficult to explore objects orbiting there – in fact, it is easier to find planets in orbit of other stars than in the Oort Cloud.
However, researchers are striving to better understand the region, as there are many possibilities for its population with glacial rocks that still retain their initial characteristics. In other words, since it is not affected by sunlight, it can contain information about the state of conditions in the solar system in its youth, 4.5 billion years ago.
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