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It is possible that previously unknown planets exist at the edge of the solar system

It is possible that previously unknown planets exist at the edge of the solar system

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According to one astrophysicist, there are still unknown planets at the edge of the solar system that differ significantly from other planets.

MUNICH – Most people interested in space know that there are eight planets in our solar system. But according to new calculations, there could be at least a ninth planet at the edge of the solar system. According to astrophysicist Amir Siraj of Princeton University, the probability of this happening is very high. The results of his calculations were published on the specialized portal Astrophysical Journal Letters published. Although the planet in question is said to be larger than Mercury, it is still invisible because there is one thing that sets it apart from all the other planets in our solar system.

Astrophysicist says unknown planets 'may exist in the outer solar system'

“We have shown, based on a simple theoretical argument, that the captured terrestrial planets are likely to be located in the outer solar system,” the astrophysicist wrote in the study. The outer solar system is so far from the sun that telescopes cannot currently see what is there. But we now know that there is a field of icy rocks extending far beyond the orbit of Neptune – the outer planet of our solar system.

According to one astrophysicist's calculations, there are still unknown planets at the outer edge of the solar system. (Avatar) © Kevin M. Gill/dpa

This field is referred to as the Kuiper Belt, in which, among other things, the dwarf planet Pluto is located. Even farther from the Sun, the virtual Oort Cloud can be found. It is a huge spherical sphere of rock that surrounds the entire solar system and its size is unknown. Researchers assume that long-period comets come from there, that is, comets that take more than 100 years to orbit the sun. According to Siraj, there is said to be at least one planet that cannot be seen and is simply floating in the cold darkness of the universe.

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Calculations on previously unknown planets: They are said to be five times larger than Mercury

According to theoretical astrophysicist calculations, there could be 1.2 planets with a mass five times greater than the mass of Mercury, the smallest planet in our solar system. Speculation about this began with the discovery of so-called free-floating planets in 2000. These free-floating planets – also called rogue planets – have detached from their star and are floating unrestrained through the galaxy. Some researchers believe that “Planet 9” is one of the planets that left our solar system.

The instability required for separation from the home system is said to be generated quite easily by gravitational interactions. This could mean that there are multiple planets simply floating in space. However, it is not yet known how often this actually happens.

Free planets in the universe: can the sun capture them with its gravity?

However, free planets do not always remain unbound, and if they float close enough to the star, they are attracted by its gravity. The same thing can happen with the sun's gravity. Researchers suspect that there are many free planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. Using these and other estimates of stars catching free planets, Siraj calculated the probability of the Sun catching planets.

“Future work should include simulations that study in more detail the capture and retention of free planets as well as planets bound to other stars,” the astrophysicist further explains in the study. This is intended to improve the probability of the orbital plane and position of the captured planets.