Thursday, June 19, 2008

Large ‘Planet X’ may lurk beyond Pluto

Shaun Saunders sends in another good article from MSNBC. According to a new computer model created by team members from Kobe University in Japan: An unknown world might lurk in the distant reaches of our solar system beyond the orbit of Pluto. A planet much larger than Pluto, possibly as much a 70% the mass of Earth, and could be responsible for some unusual features of the Kuiper Belt.

Ok, I know, hardly new idea! A "planet X" has been the grist for many a science fiction writer, fired the imagination of fans for ages and been the bane for many astro-scientists. And of course now since the International Astronomical Union adopted a new definition recently, it would instead be the largest known "plutoid."

But all kidding aside, according to the article : The Kuiper Belt contains many peculiar features that can't be explained by standard solar system models. One is the highly irregular orbits of some of the belt's members. Some of the largest and most distant bodies in the Kupier belt, have orbits that are so unusual that it is very easy to speculate that a very massive object is responsible. The team members released their in a recent issue of Astrophysical Journal.

Shaun speculates that the situation may be a little more complicated than what is described in the article - there could be a brown dwarf solar twin much further out, with its own planets occasionally coming in closer...

I myself have harbored the notion that Earth's Sol could very well have a brown dwarf as a companion and that Sol was part of a binary pair. If we want to speculate further, Sol might have a singularity as a companion.

Truly we have only just scratched the surface so to speak of the outer reaches of the solar system. Mysteries still abound, and hence - science fiction will continue to have a healthy plot device!


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