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Planet Nine could be a cluster of asteroids sending comets Earth's way

08 June 2018

Sedna's eccentric orbit has been cited as evidence that another, larger planet's gravity must be nudging it off-kilter somewhere along its path, and the mysterious Planet Nine is usually assumed to be responsible. There is also a theory that suggests unseen ninth planet lurking beyond Neptune may have kicked up the orbits of these detached objects. What does their collective gravity do?

Bumper car-like interactions at the edges of our solar system-and not a mysterious ninth planet-may explain the dynamics of odd bodies called "detached objects", according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder started by developing computer simulations of the orbits of "detached objects" - distant dwarf planets like Sedna, as well as icy comets, moons and other bodies, that seem to be separated from the rest of the Solar System. As space debris interacts in the outer solar system, the orbits of these objects tighten and widen in a repeating cycle.

Dr Madigan added: "The picture we draw of the outer solar system in textbooks may have to change".

Dwarf planets like Sedna, reports Cnet, have unusual orbits around the Sun and one of the reasons for this could be a yet-to-be-seen ninth planet that is large enough, or with enough mass to exert gravitational tugs on them.

One of such objects, according to the scientists, is Sedna. Jacob Fleisig, an undergraduate studying astrophysics at CU Boulder, calculated that these icy objects orbit the sun like the hands of a clock.

"These orbits crash into the bigger body, and what happens is those interaction will change its orbit from an oval shape to a more circular shape".

Their findings the researchers presented at the 232nd meeting of the American astronomical society.

But Ann-Marie Madigan, CU Boulder, thinks the distant bodies are so far removed as they are bumping around and crashing into one another - much like bumper cars at a fairground.

The probability of the existence of Planet X discussed by scientists from 2016.

Remarkably, these relatively insignificant objects may also be culpable in the extinction of the dinosaurs.

According to the team, the dinosaur-killing asteroid that hammered our planet 65 million years ago, wiping out almost 75 percent of life on Earth, could have been sent on its collision path by the periodic comet showers that turned up in Fleisig's computer model.

"You see a pileup of the orbits of smaller objects to one side of the sun", Fleisig said. "While we're not able to say that this pattern killed the dinosaurs, it's tantalizing", says Fleisig.

Planet Nine could be a cluster of asteroids sending comets Earth's way