There May Have Once Been 9 Planets in the Solar System After All

Thursday, 05 November 2015 - 7:42PM
Solar System
Thursday, 05 November 2015 - 7:42PM
There May Have Once Been 9 Planets in the Solar System After All
In a study recently published in the Astrophysical Journal, it's theorized that the solar system may have once had nine planets after all (and no, it doesn't have anything to do with Pluto).

According to Ryan Cloutier and his colleagues, Jupiter may have ejected an additional ice giant from the solar system some four billion years ago. Their reasoning is based off of the fact that there are discrepancies in the orbit of Earth and Mars - if eight planets are all there's ever been, both planets shouldn't technically be in their current positions in the solar system. It all makes sense if there was an additional planet thrown into the mix, however, and so a 9th planet was theorized.

Their ideas match their computer models, as they show Jupiter's moon would still be in it's current orbit if this planetary run-in did indeed take place. It's believed that this 9th planet probably would have been even heavier than Jupiter (the most massive body in the Solar System next to the sun) and that a gravitational interaction would have sent it hurdling right out of the star system, in a similar mechanism to how NASA and other space agencies use slingshot maneuvers to accelerate different space crafts past massive bodies.

The planet then would have been classified as a rogue planet. Rogue planets are simply planets without a star and are generally believed to be ejected from their solar system early during the system's evolution due to processes quite similar to the one's described in Coultier's paper.

The additional planet hypothesis was first proposed back in 2011, but this recent study shows that there's a real possibility that this could have actually happened. There are other explanations that could potentially explain the discrepancies in the orbits of Earth and Mars, but more research will need to be conducted before a hard and fast conclusion could possibly be reached.
Science
Astrophysics
Solar System