New Research out of Japan Points to the Existence of a New Planet in the Solar System

A new study conducted by Japanese universities indicates the possibility of an unknown planet in the Kuiper Belt. Here, we provide further information on this theory.

Nuevo planeta
Researchers have found evidence of the existence of a ninth planet located in the Kuiper belt. Credits: Bing/DALL-E 3

Today we know that there are 8 planets in the solar system, including Earth. Until 2006, Pluto was considered a planet , bringing the total to nine. That year, the International Astronomical Union revised the classification of planets and Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet.

The discovery of the planets in the solar system dates back to 2000 BC in Babylon. Observations of objects closest to Earth were the first steps in observational astronomy. And, today, it is a question that intrigues many astronomers around the world: do other planets exist in the solar system?

It is not new to propose the existence of a ninth planet in our planetary system. The most famous of them is the so-called Planet 9 or Planet X. Recently, a new study published by The Astrophysical Journal points to evidence of the existence of a new planet in the Kuiper belt.

The planets of the solar system

The solar system is divided into 2 parts: the inner planets and the outer planets. The inner planets are those close to the Sun and before the asteroid belt. These planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, which are rocky planets and the smallest of the eight.

sistema solar
The solar system currently consists of eight planets, but researchers hope to find a ninth.

After the asteroid belt, there are four other planets that are considered outer. They are gas giants: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and gravitationally interferes with the dynamics of many asteroids.

What is considered a planet?

Before 2006, Pluto was considered a planet, but the conditions for classifying it as such had to be revised. This was partly because certain objects like Ceres and Makémaké would have had to be considered planets if Pluto were also one. The update required three conditions:

  • Orbit around the Sun.
  • Be large enough to have a spherical shape.
  • The object must gravitationally dominate its orbit.

Pluto meets the first two conditions, but not the third. Pluto does not control its orbit and even shares it with its moon Charon. Objects that only meet 2 of these requirements are called dwarf planets.

Is there something beyond Neptune?

Therefore, Neptune is considered the last planet since this update. Objects found after Neptune are called trans- Neptunians . Astronomers have always searched for the possibility of the existence of a planet beyond the orbit of Neptune.

One of them is the famous Planet X, which was conceived after simulations of the orbits of the planets. By simulating all the planets and their orbits, they realized that these can only be explained if a ninth planet is taken into account, similar to Neptune and which interacts gravitationally with the others.

Planet X has never been found, but is the subject of debate within the astronomical community. In 2019, two astrophysicists hypothesized that Planet X could, in fact, be a primordial black hole. To date, efforts to find this object have come to nothing.

A hidden planet in the Kuiper belt

Researchers from Japanese universities have hypothesized the existence of a hidden planet in the Kuiper belt. This belt is a region with a large number of asteroids that extends from the orbit of Neptune.

By analyzing the dynamics of the asteroids in the belt, the researchers came to the conclusion that there could be an object with greater mass that interfered with the position and speed of the planets. When modeling this object, it is expected to be slightly larger than Earth.

If confirmed, it will be one of the first tests of the new planet and will also have Brazilian participation. Astronomer Patryk Lykawka is a Brazilian who works at Kindai University and is one of the lead authors of this article.

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