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Something Big Is Warping Our Outer Solar System (futurity.org) 144

schwit1 quotes Futurity: The plane of our solar system is warped in the outer reaches of the Kuiper Belt, suggesting the presence of an unknown Mars-to-Earth-mass planetary object far beyond Pluto -- but much closer than Planet Nine. An unknown, unseen "planetary mass object" may lurk in the outer reaches of our solar system, according to new research on the orbits of minor planets.

The object would be different from -- and much closer than -- the so-called Planet Nine, a planet whose existence has yet to be confirmed... "The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass," says Kat Volk, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and lead author of the study in the Astronomical Journal. "According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured."

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Something Big Is Warping Our Outer Solar System

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  • Spock (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Captain, that is definitely a Klingon warp signature."

    Greekgeek :-)

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday July 01, 2017 @07:17PM (#54727005)

    But it's probably V'Ger.

  • The plane of our solar system is warped in the outer reaches of the Kuiper Belt, suggesting the presence of an unknown Mars-to-Earth-mass planetary object

    I figured out what's warping the solar system:

    http://static.deathandtaxesmag... [deathandtaxesmag.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There's a kook who'll be commenting soon enough quoting Sitchin and his horseshit. Yeah, I know, there'll be PLENTY of those idiots.

    (go ahead, mark me flamebait. They can't unbutthurt you)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Zecharia Sitchin was a hugely influential man who changed the way that many people view human life, human nature, and our role in the cosmos.

      1. The ancient Mesopotamian gods were actually real, only they were not actually gods. They were alien beings. Lacking the language to discuss extraterrestrial life, the ancients simply referred to them as “gods.”

      2. There is another planet in our solar system which is presently undiscovered by modern scientists. It follows a slow elliptical orbit s

      • So the Annunaki are on the "Pluto is a planet" side of the debate.
      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
        When you make the bible sound credible, you know it's time to look up a psychiatrist.
  • Not again! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Telephone Sanitizer ( 989116 ) on Saturday July 01, 2017 @07:24PM (#54727039)

    We only just knocked the last "Planet Nine" theory and now we've got ANOTHER ONE?!

    See:
    https://medium.com/starts-with... [medium.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01, 2017 @07:37PM (#54727083)

      The planets, they go all the way to eleven!!

    • Starts with a bang never knocked anything with his tabloid space gibberish.

    • We only just knocked the last "Planet Nine" theory and now we've got ANOTHER ONE?!

      See: https://medium.com/starts-with... [medium.com]

      (A excerpt from our not-so-distant past...)

      "You know, I think there are other objects besides our Sun and Moon out there..."

      "Oh, what a load of shit. Everyone knows our world is flat, and we are the most important world. Even our Sun rotates around us."

      Sometimes I wonder how many more times we'll find ourselves to be dead wrong when speaking about our solar system. From the dawn of time (brought to you by the Sun Chariot), we've certainly proven we have a rather ridiculous ability to not be right.

      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
        Yeah? You think Jupiter will turn out not to really be there or something? How fucking wrong can we be at this point?
    • ... when Kuiper belt objects started to kick in.

    • Strange, but I was swapping messages with Konstantin just yesterday and he's of the opinion that the evidence is moderately stronger than this time last year. Which is how I read Friday's (or was it Thursday?) paper on the subject too. Planet Nine (sense : Batygin-Brown 2016) is still pretty firm. 3 to 4 sigma.

      Regardless of which , with this proposed "planet" being around 1xMars mass, it's also around 0.1xEarth mass and 0.01xP9(BB2016). Literally, it and it's effects would fit in the error bars of the P9(B

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday July 01, 2017 @07:26PM (#54727045)

    The Empire obviously decided to park it here and then forgot all about it...

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday July 01, 2017 @07:30PM (#54727063) Homepage Journal

    If its a kuiper belt object, then it must be huge to have that much mass, because of its low density. Or it could be a rocky object, like Vesta or Mercury, but then its hard to explain how it got to be so far from the sun.

    • I bet it's not so huge that some arrogant administrator will declare it's not big enough to be called a planet.

      It'll have to be someone from Europe, because I just read on Slashdot that there aren't any Presidential science advisors left.

      Also, didn't Arthur C Clarke call this?

    • If its a kuiper belt object, then it must be huge to have that much mass, because of its low density.

      As the mass goes up, the material near the core gets compressed. Which is why, despite very similar compositions, Earth has a density of 5.51 (g/cc or tonnes/cu.m) and Mars (1/10 Earth mass) is 3.93 (same units) while the Moon (1/82 Earth mass) is 3.34.

      Triton and Pluto and Charon are the furthest out bodies for which I have figures (I've really got to put some more of the KBOs into my data base) : Triton Ma

  • by Walter White ( 1573805 ) on Saturday July 01, 2017 @07:48PM (#54727107)

    Probably the ring.

  • Wasnt Pluto reinstated as a planet not long ago (again)? It's a bit confusing and difficult to keep track of all those transneptunes... Dammit, I can't sleep now. Yet another one and no proper numbering.
    • Either Neptune has a dick or he doesn't. Stop calling him trans.

    • Wasnt Pluto reinstated as a planet not long ago (again)?

      No. Alan Stern and some others from his team have made the argument again, and been soundly ignored by the rest of the planetary science community.

      He's a respected worker (PI on New Horizons, for instance), so he'll get peer reviewed and published, but that doesn't mean that he'll carry the consensus with him.

      I'm not a planetary scientist myself, but I do follow the field quite closely. When @plutokiller (Mike Brown, Caltech) killed Pluto, I was pers

  • Go on a diet already. Jeez!

  • by AlanObject ( 3603453 ) on Saturday July 01, 2017 @09:45PM (#54727493)

    I have read articles like this for many years (I recall that the outer planets were detected before they were known this way) and have always wondered something that maybe someone here can explain.

    I understand at a high level the theory behind detecting unseen objects by their fanatic effect on known bodies but just how can you make measurements that precise? How many digits of precision do you need to do the calculation? Intuitively the angles involved must be far smaller than typical mechanical tools could measure so how do they do it?

    • I hope someone answers this as I've wondered exactly the same. Like just how far "out of expected location" would Neptune be after an orbit. It is the scales that confuse.
    • First thing: You don't use angles, you use 3 vectors. Angles are horrible at maintaining precision compared to 3 vectors. On the Earth, double precision latitude, longitude has a limit of 0.1m but double precision 3 vectors has a limit of just over 0.00000000056m.
    • (I recall that the outer planets were detected before they were known this way)

      Neptune was found this way, but that was likely coincidence. The early estimates of Uranus's mass (and the other planets, principally Jupiter's) were off by a few percent, which made Le Verrier's estimate for the location of Neptune essentially unjustifiable. But he got lucky, and Galle found the planet at the predicted position. Repeating Le Verrier's calculation with the revised Solar System geometry after the transits of Venus

  • by oldgraybeard ( 2939809 ) on Saturday July 01, 2017 @10:58PM (#54727743)
    Nemesis!!

    Nemesis (Issac Asimov) [wikipedia.org]
  • by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Sunday July 02, 2017 @12:01AM (#54727909) Homepage

    That we cannot see it... maybe it's a small black hole? Or some other lesser stellar remnant that's burnt out, but not massive enough to be a full scale black hole. The suggestion it's quite massive, yet we haven't found it... I dunno! Maybe some time in the distant past, this system had two stars. Singular star systems are supposedly less common than binaries.

    TLDR; Just speculative rambling.

    • Re:Black Hole? (Score:5, Informative)

      by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Sunday July 02, 2017 @01:35AM (#54728097)

      That we cannot see it... maybe it's a small black hole?

      It's really far away, and brightness drops with 4th power of distance, so even a regular planet-sized object would be very hard to see. It's not that massive either, only estimated to have the mass of Mars, so that's a relatively small planet.

      • Second power of distance.
        • The sunlight falling on the object goes down with the square of the distance to the Sun, and what we get of the sunlight goes down with the square of the distance back here. For objects that far away, distance to Earth and the Sun is about the same, and the amount of reflected light we get from it does go down with the fourth power of the distance.

          • But the distance the light has travelled has doubled. And the light doesn't know about what is going to happen to it, before it happens. You don't have one rule for photons in free space and a different rule for photons which are going to encounter a perpendicular mirror.

            It gets significantly more complicated when one or more of your mirror, source, or receiver is travelling at a significant fraction of c.

    • There is no such thing an a "full-scale black hole" (and it's implied "half-scale" and "double scale" black holes. If there is enough mass in a small enough volume that the escape velocity is greater than the speed of light in a vacuum, then it's a black hole. It's binary condition - black-hole or not-black-hole ; no intemediates (and as far as we know, no superlatives).

      Maybe some time in the distant past, this system had two stars. Singular star systems are supposedly less common than binaries.

      If it was a

    • Meh. Just call it Dark Matter and be done with it...

      More seriously, though I am unsure of how reasonable it is, perhaps it is a close agglomeration of belt objects working in concert gravitationally. Even within the belt most objects, probably particularly distant ones are quite far apart relatively speaking, most space is exactly that. However if there was some event in the distant past, or even some unknown solar mechanic that might glom many of these objects close enough together that as a whole have eno

  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Sunday July 02, 2017 @07:26AM (#54728703)

    I wish astronomers would stop pulling these shitty theories out of Uranus all of the time.

  • by laughingskeptic ( 1004414 ) on Sunday July 02, 2017 @12:47PM (#54729923)
    I'm betting on eddies in the Kuiper belt. Both observed effects don't have to be from a single mass and can be from distributed masses that have an effective center of mass. You always wind up with eddies in a hydrodynamic simulations and it is a bad assumption that the origins of the solar system was non-chaotic.
    • You always wind up with eddies in a hydrodynamic simulations

      Yes. Also in reality.

      and it is a bad assumption that the origins of the solar system was non-chaotic.

      Why do you believe that planetary origin modellers don't include chaos in their models. After all, they do used thousands of processor years of computer time to do exactly that. Can you give me an Arxiv (i.e. open) link to these hydrodynamic papers that don't include chaos. You do realise that they run ensembles of these models precisely to search f

      • Why do you believe that planetary origin modellers don't include chaos in their models.

        Why do you assume they do? Computer models are an extension of the always-flawed thought processes of the humans who make them. If the humans don't (or won't) think of something, it won't be in the models the computers are crunching. See every climate change simulation that doesn't take our Sun's periodic cycles into account. Or which hasn't considered the short and long-term effects of the BP oil spill on action of the Gulf Stream.

        ALL simulations are, by necessity, simplifications of a problem and its para

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