OTHER EARTHS may be orbiting our Sun beyond Neptune

Objects beyond Pluto excite stargazers

Astroboffins believe at least two hidden planets may exist in our solar system – far beyond Pluto.

If the claim from scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge is confirmed, the "results may be truly revolutionary for astronomy," said Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, who co-authored the study.

The uncharacteristic orbital behaviour of 13 objects beyond Neptune has been pored over by scientists, who have now published their calculations.

"This excess of objects with unexpected orbital parameters makes us believe that some invisible forces are altering the distribution of the orbital elements of the ETNO [extreme trans-Neptunian objects] and we consider that the most probable explanation is that other unknown planets exist beyond Neptune and Pluto,” said de la Fuente Marcos.

“The exact number is uncertain, given that the data that we have is limited, but our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets, and probably more, within the confines of our solar system.”

Unknown planets could exist beyond Pluto

Could at least two unknown planets exist in our solar system? Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The boffins acknowledged that their study – which calculated the gravitational perturbation a large body would have on smaller objects – faced drawbacks, including current predictions that state no more planets existed in our Solar System beyond Neptune.

Two papers – Flipping minor bodies: what comet 96P/Machholz 1 can tell us about the orbital evolution of extreme trans-Neptunian objects and the production of near-Earth objects on retrograde orbits and Extreme trans-Neptunian objects and the Kozai mechanism: signalling the presence of trans-Plutonian planets – were published by the scientists in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters. ®

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