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Planet Nine Could Actually Be A Rogue World Captured By Our Solar System

This is mind-boggling.

12/01/2017 12:30 GMT | Updated 13/01/2017 09:17 GMT

Astronomers have been pondering the existence of a large ninth planet in the depths of our solar system ever since it was proposed back in 2014.

Now a new study suggests the putative world may have been flying rogue before it was captured by the Sun’s gravitational field.

Caltech/R Hurt

According to simulations, more than half of the planets in the Milky Way are rogues that fly through space unattached to a star.

In about 60 per cent of encounters with our solar system, they would be flung out into space, the research suggests.

But in every other case, the rogues would end up ensnared in the Sun’s gravitational field, potentially ejecting native planets from the solar system.

That’s according to research conducted by James Vesper, an undergraduate at New Mexico State University and his mentor Paul Mason, a math and physical science professor. 

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
Professor of Planetary Astronomy Mike Brown speaks in front of a computer simulation of the probable orbit of Planet Nine.

In a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Texas, Vesper said “it’s very plausible” that Planet Nine is a captured rogue, Space.com reported.

His simulations suggest that it’s unlikely the solar system has ever encountered a rogue world more massive than Neptune, as such an intruder would have caused chaos in the orderly inner solar system.

Neptune is 17 times more massive than Earth, while Planet Nine is believed to be just 10 times larger.

But not everyone is convinced that Planet Nine is rogue. Previous studies claim that it’s a native of the solar system.

And at the moment, the planet is just hypothetical, although some astronomers think it’s existence will be confirmed by the end of winter next year.

Last summer, researchers at Warwick predicted that if the planet does is exist, it will ultimately cause chaos, rewriting the death of the solar system

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