Two large, unknown planets could be lurking at the edge of our solar system, scientists believe – and observing the orbit of asteroids and ‘dwarf planets’ in a far-flung region beyond Pluto, at least one of the planets is believed likely to be larger than Earth.
The research, by University of Madrid scientists, suggests that two large objects may be lurking in a little-studied area at the ‘fringe’ or our solar system, known as the ‘inner Oort cloud’.
The first hints of their existence came from the discovery of icy ‘dwarf planets’ Sedna and 2012VP113 – and scientists studying their orbits realised their might be something massive on the edge of our solar system pulling Sedna and its fellow ‘dwarf planet’ out into the frigid depths of space.
The research highlights how little we actually know about the edges of our own solar system – but hints that there ARE two large, unknown planets, lurking in the depths of the inner Oort cloud. Scientists believe there could be up to 900 more large objects out there.
Our current telescopes may not be powerful enough to pick out these distant objects, scientists have said – and there may be even more lurking in the depths of the inner Oort cloud.
‘A population of asteroids could be shepherded by a distant, undiscovered planet larger than the Earth,’ the researchers right.
The team analysed the orbits, and found that they converged in a way that ‘strongly suggest that at least two trans-Plutonian planets must exist.’
Nothing is known of what these planets would be like – but the scientists have guessed that they lie at 200 astronomical units (one astronomical unit is 93 million miles) and 250 astrononomical units beyond the sun.
‘ If there are two planets, one at nearly 200 au and another one at approximately 250 au, their combined resonances may clear the area of objects in a fashion similar to what is observed between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn,’ the researchers write.