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Sun Tilt Caused by Unknown Distant Planet Nine

If you’ve ever wondered as to why does the sun tilt in an unusual fashion, we now have an answer for you! The culprit might be from the edge of the solar system: Planet Nine, an undiscovered planet. A new study proposing this theory as cause will soon be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Artist’s illustration of a possible ninth planet in our solar system. A recent study has revealed that the unexpected behavior of some Kuiper belt objects could be explained by the presence of a distant, planet-sized object yet undetected in our solar system. Credit: Caltech/Robert Hurt

Artist rendition of Planet Nine in our solar system. The planet remains unknown and unidentified though. Photo credits: Caltech/Robert Hurt.

Planet Nine is supposedly situated at the edge of our solar system. Its existence was mentioned by Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown from Caltech this year. It might be the reason why the Sun is slightly tilted. Its enormous size, distant location, and tilted orbit are said to influence the solar system. While the orbit of all the planets lie in a flat plane relative to the Sun, planet nine rotates at a 6-degree tilt. This would make the Sun seem tilted at an angle.

“Because Planet Nine is so massive and has an orbit tilted compared to the other planets, the solar system has no choice but to slowly twist out of alignment,” says lead author, Elizabeth Bailey, a graduate student at Caltech.

Planet nine remains undiscovered. We have not yet seen it. But, it is said to be 10 times the size of our planet. It is (allegedly) orbiting the sun at a distance that is 20 times farther from the Sun than Neptune is. Its orbit would be around 30 degrees more tilted that other planets’. This difference would make it able to affect objects in the Kuiper Belt.

“It continues to amaze us; every time we look carefully we continue to find that Planet Nine explains something about the solar system that had long been a mystery,” says Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science.

Batygin also says that Planet Nine might have either emerged from the vicinity of gas giants of Jupiter, and ejected, or pulled away by the gravity of other heavenly bodies a very long time ago.

As the team continues formulating theories, they are also trying to look for the planet in question in the night sky.


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