.... is that you?
Scientists at CalTech claim to have found proof that there is a ninth planet in the solar system, using computer modeling and historical astronomy data. The new planet has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and has a very eccentric path around our Sun, making one complete orbit every 10,000 or 20,000 years and travelling 200 …
Is it sad that my very first thought on hearing about this planet was that the UFO and End of The World people were going to seriously go nuts about it?
The only thing that could make it worse is if they find this planet only a few hundred years away (or less) from crossing the orbital path of a major planet like Jupiter or Saturn.
Should we name the new planet "Goofy"? Would work well with it's orbit!
This could also open up untold corporate sponsorship opportunities, such as "Walt Disney Corporation Presents Goofy--the Planet" or a certain coffee shop can name the planet Starbucks, so there really is a Starbucks in every corner of the solar system.
The money raised could be used for science education, which is a way of saying it will probably get spent on conference junkets.
You know, I really like just plain "Planet Nine".
Or, continuing the sci-fi theme, why not 'Ix'?
But, if keeping the Roman god theme, then Bacchus might be an okay fit. Sure, it's unlikely that a god of wine would get the nod but Dionysus did leave Olympus to wander through Greece and beyond so that part fits.
But seriously, Planet names are weird. They are all Roman, except Earth, and strangely Uranus which is Greek. Many of the Solar System's moons are Roman or Greek, or else named after mythological figures from many cultures, Inuit, Gallic, Hawaiian, and so on. There are so many of them that we can assume the best names are already taken.
There might be worse ideas than to look to a synthetic mythology for a new planet name. Given Tolkein's day job, some character's from Middle Earth would at least sound right: Girion, Durin, Hirgon, Amrothos
I would disagree that all the best names are taken as there are so many different cultures and thus mythologies from which to draw. I am not saying that I disagree with the suggestion that Tolkien's characters should be considered, either for this or other astronomical bodies, just that I believe there is plenty of play left among the various mythological names still available. My vote is for Kokopelli as it fits the the planet's wandering path.
And no matter what, you can't call a planet "Bob"!
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GIven the orbit, it may really be a "drunk" planet.. but Bacchus name is already taken by an asteroid. Unluckily, the IAU "wasted" too many good mythological names for little asteroids, it looks they didn't believe any major planet could be found, nor some "dwarf" ones.
I would call it Chronus (AFAIK is not taken, but I could be wrong) - given the distance at it circles the Solar System, and the time it takes.
(Yes, I know Chronos instead woud make some Star Trek fans happy, but in Latin it's Chronus).
But then Cronus is identified with Saturn for the Romans and that is also taken!! Saturn is actually the PERFECT name as Saturn/Cronus was expelled by Zeus/Jupiter, which is one of the likely theories of how the planet in question got its orbit!!
Double damn it!!!
"Pluto was also proved mathematically to exist but it was nearly 100 years later before it was confirmed, and then demoted to dwarf planet status in an infamous 2006 astronomers' vote."
As I understand it, irregularities in the motion of Neptune could have been due to a planet orbiting beyiond Neptune. But Pluto was not that planet. In fact, when it was discovered it was reported as being at the top of the error bar for the observed size, and even then it was too small to account for the irregularities. Subsequent observations narrowed the error bars, and the top one was consistently in a downward direction. By 2006 it was clear that (a) Pluto was much smaller than had originally been supposed, smaller in fact than some moons and only 70% the diameter of our own; and (b) it wasn't the proximate cause of the Neptunian irregularity. This led to the downgrading of Pluto.
And here is our very own Jocelyn Bell-Burnell announcing the result:
(The last time I saw J B-B she was handing round the tea at Bradford upon Avon Quaker Meeting, which is a slightly less august gathering.)
I know that some US astronomers still moan because Pluto was the only "planet" to be discovered by an American but come on, guys, the achievements of the US in astronomy are such that a potty little rock orbiting a G-glass star shouldn't be a bone of contention. You're bigger than that.
While mathematicians prove mathematical statements with absolute truth, mathematics is also used to do things in the real world, like building bridges. So using mathematics to find Neptune, although it worked, had nothing to do with proving Neptune's existence as though it were a theorem. So I don't see a problem with "mathematically" as an adjective entering into the description.
Yes, I was going to comment on this point after reading the article. After the discovery of Neptune, similar calculations were made which predicted another planet, and looking for that planet, Pluto was found. But those calculations were mistaken; not only was Pluto too small to cause the perturbations for which they were looking for a cause, but in addition, those perturbations weren't real (otherwise, another new planet, bigger than Pluto, would have been found by now - instead, the error in the observations used in the calculations has been found).
Um, I think you missed the fact that this new #9 is supposed to be ten times the mass of Earth.
That means ten times the gravitational effect. With our current technology, good luck building a rocket that can lift off of that.
And if there are animals on that planet, and we somehow manage to bring one back, I shudder to think of its strength here on Earth. You'll have the power of an elephant in something the size of a cat.
That really depends upon its rotational speed, if its slow then lifting off would be boned. However if it is fast then lifting off at or near the equator would be quite easy.
Mind you it would be a bugger to make a rocket of any viable kind capable of withstanding the 10G load of the planet + the atmospheric pressure on a 10G planet + the G load of accelerating to orbit.
The orbit clearing requirement assumed planets with orderly orbits that transited the same area over and over again. No one expected something like this. I'm sure it will get an exception for the orbit clearing requirement and will otherwise easily qualify as a planet. You can't claim something 10x larger than the Earth is a 'dwarf', it would make no sense.
But the rules don't care about mass. That is, by the way, what makes them so ridiculous. You would think the "dwarf" label would somehow refer to size but it doesn't. So a dwarf gas giant planet is a completely feasible outcome of the current rules.
In fact, it is generally considered possible that the outer Kuiper belt may still contain a Mars-sized or even Earth-sized object, just judging from the observed mass distribution of Kuiper belt objects. However, such an object would still not qualify as a "planet", even if it would be the size of Earth!
Well, the published article does pose an idea of how a mass like that would have ended up all the way out there, and if they're correct "orbit clearing" would have been on the menu before the core was tossed out by the Dance of the Gas Giants during our solar systems puberal tantrums.
Fair warning: the article is not Light Reading, and the Math it contains may well cause recurrent nightmares of Highschool Days Past or other feelings of inadequacy. They're also pretty fair about the limits of their models, so anyone owning a fat cluster with spare time : They Need Moar Cycles...
But yeah.. They make a solid case. Enough to warrant a serious hunt.
Edit: a brown dwarf would have shown up on at least IR already.. Besides the mass is calculated to be around the order of 10 earth masses. Nowhere near enough to rival any of the Big 4, let alone a brown dwarf...
"Planet Nine from Seriously Outer Space"
And there may be even more stuff out there.
Still no Heechee jump-off base though.
60 years coasting. If we used an Ion engine or VASIMR* that could provide constant thrust we could cut that time by a big factor, like under a year.
All we need to do is find it and have a really good reason to go there asap. Humanity won't do it of course, but we could, with just a couple decades of real effort.
Maybe if they detect unobtanium** or something uber cool like that.
About the clearing requirement, from the CalTech article:
Unlike the class of smaller objects now known as dwarf planets, Planet Nine gravitationally dominates its neighborhood of the solar system. In fact, it dominates a region larger than any of the other known planets—a fact that Brown says makes it "the most planet-y of the planets in the whole solar system."
Case closed I suppose.
A very good speaker, and Apple could do worse than publish the video of his speech.
He spoke then about this ninth planet, and I hope he's honoured for this discovery when it's finally seen. He's also got a passionate explanation for demoting Pluto.
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Well , given that we don't know where it actually *is* , there's a remote chance that if it does indeed exist it may be in a feasible flight path.
The research shows its likely presence from the grouping of a number of KBE orbits. It does not tell us where we can find it, other than a rather broad band of possible orbits depending on the actual mass. Where in that orbit the planet is at this point in time the research can't tell us. The planet itself could be all the way on the other side of the Sun, or straight on an extended flight path for New Horizons. We don't know until we find the thing..
Would take a while to get there, voyager 1 has been going for 39 years and hasn't even got to where its supposed to be orbiting. If its 200 times the distance that earth is from the sun, that's outside the 'solar system' and in interstellar space. Voyager 1 is at about 133 times the distance right now.
But I may be wrong.
Well, I would not dare guess how long it would take.
The main problem many here do not realize is that Voyager used the attraction from planets it passed to speed up. Given this planet's "theoretical" trajectory, there will be no other planets far and wide to be used as "thrusters" which means it will take considerably longer to get there ... much, much, much more than 60 years (approximate time it would take Voyager to reach the "distance").
Ultimately, if you want to go out that far, it makes more sense to build a decent lab/observatory that can actually accelerate/decelerate and enter orbit locally. It'd give you a nice spearhead in the neighbourhood, and you can do Science for years, instead of just a quick flyby.
It'll be 'spensive, but long trips *always* are.. May as well do it right, especially since arrival, at the best of times, would be something for the next generation.. Good practice for them in Legacy Equipment ;)
The delta-V to get out of the ecliptic (even with a "throw me out" flyby of Jupiter as was done with the Ulysses probe is going to be enormous. Unless you want to do a 150y orbit around the sun.
About two days after it is actually found someone in the US will sue NASA to demand they divert New Horizons to pass it (ignoring the detail that it would be impossible to do, and that if it were possible they would already be doing it).
You're crediting them with too much intelligence to be honest. Expect the demands for a fly-by to start before the the planet is even found.
"Planets are supposed to form from the disk of matter that surrounds a young star, but the unusual orbit suggests that while the ninth planet might have started that way, it got knocked out of alignment, possibly by a major object like Jupiter, and sent on a new orbital trajectory."
Or as a result of a roaming exoplanet being caught by the Sun's gravity and mixing things up a little.
Based on some nonsense I put together for some maths course work a lifetime ago, that foreign planet is Neptune - and that same coursework suggests our mystery planet should be 11,580,000,000 Km from the Sun, which is notably less than 30,000,000,000 Km. (And if there's another one again, it'll be 22,500,000,000 Km).
Of course, I'm all grown up now, so I know just how wrong I was back then.
Or do I?
No idea. I hadn't considered anything like that. It was just a GCSE thing I did in my very early 20s for fun (already had an O level from school), and I was specifically looking at Titius-Bode for the main part, then the Drake equation towards the end.
The point was that Titius-Bode works as an approximation until you hit Neptune for the ninth position (the fifth is Ceres/the asteroid belt) - and then, of course, Pluto is wrong for the tenth.
Take Neptune out though, and Pluto is in the right place for the ninth value in the sequence - so I suggested Neptune didn't originate hereabouts. (If memory serves, I suggested that its arrival could be one explanation for Uranus' axial tilt - not as an ongoing thing, but simply that it had an effect when it came too close, before finding itself in a more stable orbit.)
The two distances in my previous post are therefore 10th and 11th.
Edit: I think I may also have suggested it caused a larger body in fifth position to break up and become the asteroid belt - though these days I believe the consensus is that there isn't enough material there for it to have formed a planet to start with.
OTOH, perhaps that's because the missing material ended up scattered more widely, and some of it may have been the material in the bombardment. And if this theorised new planet has such an odd orbital plane, maybe it caused that as well. :)
Edit again: I found the file with that coursework on a while back, but didn't have the right software to read it. I do have the software now, so just need to find the file again. It'd be fun to read it again, and perhaps tidy it up/shorten it - and if necessary fix some of the out of date info - and throw it on my blog or something.
I've long argued that there must be a large gas giant pottering around the Kuitper Belt. I could even suggest where to start looking for it - south of the the ecliptic plane, a long way south.
Because I've noticed that every single bloody long-period comet that has passed this planet in my lifetime - from Kohoutek to ISON - seems to come in from the south, swings around the Sun and thus reserves its most spectacular tail display exclusively for the Northern Hemisphere, with some even passing directly over the North Pole. It's almost as if the comets have all agreed that us pesky Australians are never to see a post-perihelion cometary skyshow, ever.
Which suggests to me, that if all these comets are coming from the south, swinging around the sun and exiting over the north, that something big, far out and far south in the Kuitper belt, could be gravitationally kicking them into the solar system from that direction.
So that's where I'd start looking for Planet IX!
So we have an planet on a very elliptical orbit of a period of around 20k years.
This explains where Atlantis and the Greek Gods came from!
Since the orbit is highly elliptical, for most of it's 20k year orbit it's way, way out there. But, at its closest approach to the sun, for a period of 1k or 2k years, it's close enough for the advanced civilizations on it to travel to earth in their space ships.
I hypothesize that the last time this happened around 4,000BC to about 2,000BC. And this is where our legends of Atlantis and the Greek and other Gods come from. They were visitors from this planet, and as we know, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. And these being wowed our ancestors and had a bit of fun, pretending to be Gods and whatnot.
And in earlier visitations, they seeded the Earth, so we are in fact their descendants, which is why they look like us.
If there is a large planet out there, it is NOT the ninth planet but more like the 15th. In referring to this potential object as "Planet Nine," Brown is being extremely disingenuous by portraying his view of the solar system and planet definition as THE view when this is far from the case. He is once again promoting his obsession that he somehow "killed" planet Pluto.
It is unfortunate that the media repeat his position without acknowledging the reality is that the IAU definition is just one among many currently in use.
Numerous planetary scientists continue to reject the controversial IAU planet definition, which was adopted by only four percent of the organization, most of whom were not planetary scientists but other types of astronomers. That petition was immediately rejected by hundreds of professional astronomers, who reject the notion that an object has to clear its orbit to be a planet.
Brown deliberately chose the term "ninth planet" knowing it would be repeated ad nauseam by the media, most of whom simply rewrite what is written in the press release.
Dwarf planets ARE planets too, and their discovery means that far more than two full planets have been discovered in the last two centuries. The solar system's current planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris--and counting.
If it is full of nasty insects the size of cars, then Klendathu would be a good name.
I was thinking Vulcan, but that implies a hot planet. Kronos might be good.
Mind you, if they are looking for a gas giant, they should check out my mother in law first (with apologies to Bernard Manning) :-)
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), confirmation of the existence of a large, previously unknown trans-Neptunian planet will bolster the so-called "hyper-dimensional physics" of Richard Hoagland et al. Some parts of the scientific community breathed a collective sigh of relief when NASA's WISE planetary survey spacecraft failed to find any large trans-Neptunian bodies as their existence was a core prediction of the Hoaglandites' theories.
Given, though, that WISE (if I recall correctly) was supposed to be able to detect a body the size of Jupiter at a distance of up to 1 light year, one wonders why it failed to detect Nibiru/Asgard/Gandalf/Bob.
If their modelling has revealed that this planet should exist in a wildly eccentric orbit way off the normal ecliptic plane, based on the perturbations to Kuiper Belt objects, surely it has also predicted, fairly specifically (in astronomical terms at any rate) whereabouts in its orbit it needed to be to cause those disturbances, so they should have a reasonable clue whereabouts it ought to be to start looking?
(Haven't read the academic article, just the Reg one).
I was also thinking this. If they were able to simulate it and it matched the data that they have they must know close to where it is as they should have the current accurate data on the positions of everything in their simulation. Only if their data isn't accurate or complete, therefore the simulation and results which do not actually represent the current movements. Only one that provides general movement that matches the overall data they have collected would they find it difficult to predict its current location, but that would also mean that their simulation could not be trusted also, as it didn't actually simulate and match the movements actually recorded.
But I'm not an astrophysicist, and don't work in creating simulations.
The irregularities in Neptune's orbit always suggested there must be something very big further out, when they found Pluto and the rest of the TNO's they seemed to be happy that they had the explanation. But if they've concluded again that there must be something really big out there but further out, then does that therefore mean that Voyager isn't in interstellar space, i.e the influence of the Sun stretches out far enough for this Nibiru planet to maintain an orbit rather than just drift off into space itself?
Well NASA said that Voyager had experienced an event whereby they thought Voyager had exited the "safety" of the solar system and was now on the fringe of interstellar space. I think they then backtracked on that, but that's the last I heard.
The problem is, if this Nibiru/Ziggy Stardust/Bowie/Gruber/Lemmy/Big Bloody Dwarf planet is in it's own orbit going along a Y-axis instead of an X-axis, it could very well be the case that Voyager has still left interstellar space. If this planet is on the X-axis of the solar system, then it still has a long way to go.
If only they knew then what we know now, and they could have sent the other Voyager spacecraft after it. Oh well!
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I suppose this could have been a planet ejected from the inner solar system or even a captured nomad planet.
I think we must reinstate Pluto to planet status just because should this one prove to be real we'll need to call it Planet X.
But if you want a real name what about - Tartarus
Tartarus in ancient Greek mythology, is the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans