TECH

The Mysterious Planet Nine Could Rewrite The Inevitable Death Of Our Solar System

"It's the end of the world as we know it."

31/08/2016 10:09 | Updated 31 August 2016

If the mysterious ‘Planet Nine’ really does exist then it’s almost certainly going to be responsible for the ultimate death of our solar system, at least according to new research from the University of Warwick.

Dr Dimitri Veras from the Department of Physics has discovered that ‘Planet Nine’ will almost certainly strike one of the gas giants in our solar system and kickstart a massive ‘pinball’ effect.

University of Warwick

In around seven billion years our Sun will start the process of dying, this will involve expending around half of its own mass and inflating itself into a red giant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIrw_AszBvkSadly for Earth this will spell the end, the red giant will expand to such a size that Earth will be swallowed up and destroyed.

For the rest of the planets however there’s hope, the Sun’s enormous expansion will push the larger gas giants outwards and to what was believed to be a safe distance.

Dr. Veras however has discovered that if Planet Nine does exist it’s very likely that it will not be pushed out along with the other planets, placing it directly in the orbital path of some of these gas giants.

Getty Images/iStockphoto
The fate of our sun, a planet-sized white dwarf.

The result of which? The giant would be thrown out of our solar system, forever.

Dr. Veras explains the danger that Planet Nine could create: “The existence of a distant massive planet could fundamentally change the fate of the solar system. Uranus and Neptune in particular may no longer be safe from the death throes of the Sun. The fate of the solar system would depend on the mass and orbital properties of Planet Nine, if it exists.”

Dr. Veras was able to use a unique piece of code which is able to simulate the death of planetary systems. By mapping Planet Nine into various positions he realised that the further away the rogue planet was the more likely it was going to cause absolute chaos.

Thankfully for us seven billion years is an extremely long time, so the likelihood of humans actually being around to witness this event is minimal. Still, it’s somewhat sad to think that our solar system would come to such a chaotic end. 

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