Curious tilt of the sun traced to undiscovered planet

October 19, 2016
X-rays stream off the sun in this image showing observations from by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Credit: NASA

Planet Nine—the undiscovered planet at the edge of the Solar System that was predicted by the work of Caltech's Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown in January 2016—appears to be responsible for the unusual tilt of the sun, according to a new study.

The large and may be adding a wobble to the solar system, giving the appearance that the sun is tilted slightly.

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

All of the planets orbit in a flat plane with respect to the sun, roughly within a couple degrees of each other. That plane, however, rotates at a six-degree tilt with respect to the sun—giving the appearance that the sun itself is cocked off at an angle. Until now, no one had found a compelling explanation to produce such an effect. "It's such a deep-rooted mystery and so difficult to explain that people just don't talk about it," says Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy.

Brown and Batygin's discovery of evidence that the sun is orbited by an as-yet-unseen planet—that is about 10 times the size of Earth with an orbit that is about 20 times farther from the sun on average than Neptune's—changes the physics. Planet Nine, based on their calculations, appears to orbit at about 30 degrees off from the other planets' orbital plane—in the process, influencing the orbit of a large population of objects in the Kuiper Belt, which is how Brown and Batygin came to suspect a planet existed there in the first place.

"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.

Their findings have been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal, and will be presented on October 18 at the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences annual meeting, held in Pasadena.

The tilt of the solar system's orbital plane has long befuddled astronomers because of the way the planets formed: as a spinning cloud slowly collapsing first into a disk and then into objects orbiting a central star.

Planet Nine's is having an outsized impact on the solar system based on its location and size. A planet's angular momentum equals the mass of an object multiplied by its distance from the sun, and corresponds with the force that the planet exerts on the overall system's spin. Because the other planets in the solar system all exist along a flat plane, their angular momentum works to keep the whole disk spinning smoothly.

Planet Nine's unusual orbit, however, adds a multi-billion-year wobble to that system. Mathematically, given the hypothesized size and distance of Planet Nine, a six-degree tilt fits perfectly, Brown says.

The next question, then, is how did Planet Nine achieve its unusual orbit? Though that remains to be determined, Batygin suggests that the planet may have been ejected from the neighborhood of the gas giants by Jupiter, or perhaps may have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other stellar bodies in the solar system's extreme past.

For now, Brown and Batygin continue to work with colleagues throughout the world to search the night sky for signs of Planet Nine along the path they predicted in January. That search, Brown says, may take three years or more.

Explore further: Beyond Neptune, a chunk of ice is orbiting the sun in the wrong direction

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20 comments

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Astronoom
3.1 / 5 (12) Oct 19, 2016
First find that planet for real, simulations don't count as proof!!
EnsignFlandry
1.8 / 5 (6) Oct 19, 2016
So the Killer of Pluto rescues astrodynamics with a new planet?
More importantly, does Mike still need some blue shirts?
Urgelt
4.6 / 5 (11) Oct 19, 2016
The word 'proof' in connection with science is overused, chiefly by laymen.

The better word to use is 'evidence.'

Simulations do indeed count as evidence. In this case, the simulations show that the hypothesized planet 9 is compatible with the observed tilt of the objects in the orbital plane, and that's exciting because without planet 9 there is no ready explanation for that 6 degree tilt.

Planet 9 is probably there. Finding it is not so easy, but astronomers are refining its possible locations - yes, using simulations. Odds are good they'll track it down, though it's anyone's guess how long it will take. It's a good-sized planet, but it's way out there and probably quite cold and dark.
AGreatWhopper
2.9 / 5 (7) Oct 20, 2016
This one is a good example of what the pimps that own the site have done to it, vis a vis a pure news site like the Guardian. Their headline? "A possible ninth planet may be the reason for a tilt in our solar system".
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2016
And the sister article;
http://phys.org/n...lar.html
Chris_Reeve
1 / 5 (10) Oct 20, 2016
Gravity is a localized force. It's too weak to do this.
BurnBabyBurn
2.8 / 5 (6) Oct 20, 2016
AGreatWhopper 5 /5 (1) 1 hour ago
This one is a good example of what the pimps that own the site have done to it, vis a vis a pure news site like the Guardian. Their headline? "A possible ninth planet may be the reason for a tilt in our solar system".


And you only have to look at the idiot spew right above this comment to find out why they do it. Dog shite works well to attract the pseudo-science flies.
phys_org
1 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2016
Would the simulations match up if it was a micro black hole instead of a poanet?
Phys1
not rated yet Oct 20, 2016
"A planet's angular momentum equals the mass of an object multiplied by its distance from the sun"
Incorrect.
Urgelt
5 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2016
A ten Earth mass black hole?

If you're going to suggest it, you really ought to provide an hypothesis as to why it might be there.
dnatwork
5 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2016
Why are Brown and Batygin getting credit for discovering Planet Nine? They were trying to debunk a paper by somebody else, but their math only confirmed that guy's hypothesis. He should get the credit.
Zorcon
1 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2016
This one is a good example of what the pimps that own the site have done to it, vis a vis a pure news site like the Guardian..


The majority of consumers can't distinguish between information and entertainment, and if they could they wouldn't give a toss. But shiny objects and sensational headlines draw them like flies.

And the key to a successful website is to maximize viewership and monetize the eyeballs.

So accurate headlines are counterproductive. Only the minority capable of critical thinking would even notice, and rational thinkers are almost worthless to advertisers anyway. They aren't gullible enough to bother with.
nuncestbibendum
not rated yet Oct 21, 2016
The next question is, Does the planet really exist? The current evidence is, at best, indirect. Find the sucker, and then start planning for the next thing.
katesisco
1 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2016
Actually, if you look at deep Earth geologic history, it may be seen that our cataclysmic events have lessened thru time. This in itself would indicate a magnetar as R Duncan of U of Texas, has written. Magnetars can die only in 5 million years yet encounter circumstances that allow it to flare to life after death. Could a 15 mile wide stellar body be seen in its close pass of Earth? I suspect the commercial interests will be served by our failure to discover this body. And endless conjecture afterwards.
BruceVoigt
not rated yet Oct 21, 2016
Bruce Voigt posted December 2006 There are violent forces at play. The forces of the Sun, Moon and Earth dance together giving us seasons, tides etc. The Sun recently has been stepping on toes as it glides through this dance sending our north magnetic pole whizzing away a thousand miles to wards Russia then coming home to dance around an 85km oval every 24hr.

This seemingly little dance is causing all kinds of hell for a species that thinks its the be and end all of the Universe. This Sun activity can muck around with slivers of Earth energy causing the Earth to tip, compasses to swing, radio reception, gps problems, tornado's, tsunami, re location of oceans and climate etc. (BUT)

BruceVoigt
1 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2016

The big kahuna Earths NUCLEUS is not PHASED by this UNTIL!

Our NINTH Planet third or fourth from the sun comes bar-ling around the Sun appearing to be heading right for us.

I Bruce Voigt claim that the recently discovered Asteroid 2002 AA 29 is really a Moon of (and yes I have named this Planet) OLD BRUCE.

OLD BRUCE orbits the Sun in close proximity to Earths orbit every 365 point something day's and the Earth is slowly catching up or visa versa.

BruceVoigt
1 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2016
In approximately sixty five million years from now OLD BRUCE will be close enough to change (like a magnet) Earths Nucleus direction. At that very moment instant freezing takes place and because of no gravity any thing not attached drifts out into Earth orbit to be collected by the Moon. (Good real estate investment for an optimist).
These are the Three true Ice ages, one in coming two as Old Bruce eclipses Earth (the really big sleep) and three as Old Bruce again changes the Earths nucleus and
nuclei direction.
So after all that you now know what really happened to DINO and what causes Venus to constantly change rotation.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (1) Oct 22, 2016
From the bible - Joshua 10:13, "So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hastened not to go down about a whole day.", and Habakkuk 3:11, "The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear." In China, a long day occurred during the reign of the seventh Emperor, Yao, in their year of the world 2554, which corresponds to the time of Joshua, roughly around 1400 B.C. (ref. Bouw, Gerardus "Geocentricity"). In North America, the Ojibways, Wyandots, and the Bungees tell the legend of a long night without any light. There are ancient Mexican reports of a long night, and in pre-Incan times this event was recorded as well - it occurred in the reign of Titu Yupanqui Pachacuti II, fifteenth monarch in Ancient Empire times. It is written that in the third year of his reign, "there was no dawn for twenty hours".

The influence of gravity, caused by the passing of a massive body.
BoMc
not rated yet Oct 28, 2016
"A planet's angular momentum equals the mass of an object multiplied by its distance from the sun"
Holy Mackerel, I thought this was a physics site. That's the inertial moment, not momentum. Try multiplying it by the angular velocity to the right answer. Grade: F.
yaridanjo
1 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2016
We found this solar body in 2002. including a orbital period of 4969 years and an orbital inclination of 48.44 degrees. See:
VULCAN'S NEW ORBITAL PARAMETERS
http://www.barry....per.html

We call this body Vulcan because that is what Madam Blavatsky calledit See:
http://www.barry....#AVATARS

Astronomer Forbes almost found this solar body in 1880. see:
VULCAN'S ORBITAL PARAMETERS FROM BLAVATSKY'S THEOSOPHY
http://www.barry....d.html#5

iAstronomers at the U. Of Arizona found two possible orbital inclinations for planet Nine, 18 or 48 degrees. The later agrees with the value we found.. See:
http://www.planet...nine-upd

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