Результат превзошел все ожидания.
Наиболее рациональным пояснением зафиксированных феноменов оказалось наличие 9 планеты, массой примерно в 10 земных (и в 5000 больше, чем Плутон), и размеров в 4 раза больше Земли , на расстоянии 93 млрд миль от Солнца (или в 75 раз дальше, чем находится Плутон), которая вертится вокруг Солнца по вытянутой эллиптической орбите в другую сторону, чем объекты Пояса Копейра.
[Нажмите, чтобы прочитать, англ.]Brown and his colleague, Konstantin Batygin, had been investigating claims that 13 icy objects in the Kuiper belt, the region of space where Pluto lies, shared some unusual orbital features that could be explained by the presence of a small planet. They expected to prove the idea wrong, but then made their own curious discovery.
The researchers found that six of the 13 Kuiper belt objects moved on orbits that headed in the same direction. “If you looked down on the solar system and had the sun in the centre, all of these objects would head out to the 9 o’clock position,” said Brown. Moreover, their orbits were all tilted at the same angle to the eight known planets in the solar system.
The astronomers wondered whether the Kuiper belt might hold enough rocky debris from the birth of the solar system to nudge the objects into the same orbits. But simulations ruled this out: the Kuiper belt would need to be 100 times more massive than it is.
They next considered a new planet. Their first computer models had a world circling around the Kuiper belt objects, but this did not work either. Another explanation came by accident, when they added a massive planet on its own elongated orbit, which swung out in the opposite direction to the Kuiper belt objects - towards 3 o’clock in a solar system viewed from above.Batygin was sceptical that they had hit on the right answer. According to his simulations, a large planet in such a bizarre orbit would send some Kuiper belt objects into orbits that ran perpendicular to the planets in the solar system. But the astronomers later found that four such objects had already been spotted. “When we found that, my jaw sort of hit the floor,” said Brown. “The only way to get the orbits lined up is to have a distant, more massive planet shepherding them around.” Details appear in the Astronomical Journal.Such clustering is similar to what's seen in some asteroids that are about as close to the sun as the Earth. They wind up in stable orbits that keep them far from Earth and free from any significant disturbance by the Earth's gravity.
"Until then, we didn't really believe our results ourselves. It just didn't make sense to us," Brown said. But their modeling showed that a planet with 10 times the mass of Earth would exert an influence over the orbits of the smaller bodies and keep them from coming as close to the sun as they should. It would also slowly twist these orbits by 90 degrees, making them periodically perpendicular to the plane of the solar system.Тhe astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.
In 2014, Scott Sheppard of the Washington-based Carnegie Institution of Science and Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii published a paper in the journal Nature that discussed the potential existence of a giant planet affecting the orbits of those dwarf worlds. Sheppard and Trujillo noted a similarity in the motion of those bodies when they are closest to the sun.
Telescopes on at least two continents are searching for the object, which on average is 20 times farther away than the eighth planet, Neptune. If "Planet Nine" exists, it's big. Its estimated mass would make it about two to four times the diameter of the Earth, distinguishing it as the fifth-largest planet after Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But at such extreme distances, it would reflect so little sunlight that it could evade even the most powerful telescopes.
The thought of a hidden planet larger than Earth is intriguing, but for now it's difficult to say too much about the hypothetical conditions there. Brown believes it's probably an icy, rocky world with a small envelope of gas – a planet that could have been the core of a gas giant had it not been ejected into a wonky, highly elliptical orbit. It might not make its closest approach of the sun more than once every 10,000 years, and even then it would remain far beyond the known planets.
The situation mimics what happened in the 19th century when careful observation of the seventh planet, Uranus, indicated that there must be another body in far-distant space influencing its orbit. That work led eventually to the discovery of Neptune.
It would be difficult to see the ninth planet if it's not at or near its closest approach to the sun. Brown doesn't believe the object is at that point, saying it would have been spotted by now. But he does think that the most powerful telescopes on the planet, if pointed in precisely the right direction, might be able to detect it even when it is most distant from the sun.
"We've been looking for it for a while now, but the sky is pretty big," Brown said. "We know its path, but not where it is on that path."Confirmation of its existence would reconfigure the models of the solar system.
Увидеть подобную планету практически невозможно- на данном этапе 2 телескопа смотрят в сторону предполагаемой орбиты Девятой планеты, но они могут засечь столь темный объект "всего лишь" на дистанции 20 расстояний от Нептуна.
Однако, ученые КалТека предполагают, что если вдруг повезет направить телескоп прямо на Девятую планету, есть шанс, что все же можно будет ее увидеть, не смотря на то, что она должна отсвечивать чрезвычайно слабо...