The focus is on Pluto
Two or more planets yet unknown beyond the orbit of Pluto could be responsible for that shaped in a particular way the trajectories of some remote celestial objects, known as ETNO (Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects). These are the results of a study just published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal. The caution is a must in any case; to have confirmation of this scenario will serve data and analysis more complete and accurate.
In that sense, the outer region of the Solar System is increasingly the focus of attention of astronomers. Merit of this push is, perhaps, the imminent arrival of the probe to Pluto New Horizons NASA. But there is also the difficulty of having extensive and deep observations of objects that populate the Trans-Neptunian band and the bizarre dynamic behaviors of some of them to whet the interest and the “fantasy” of the experts, who explore all avenues possible to explain them.
The latest study, proposed by brothers Carlos and Raul de la Fuente Marcos, researchers at the University Complutense of Madrid in Spain and by Sverre Aarseth, University of Cambridge, in the UK, shows that beyond the orbit of Pluto could be more of a very massive celestial body, in size comparable to a planet, able to “model” in a particular way the orbits of some transneptunian objects. So much so that astronomers classify them as “extreme”: the ‘E’ of ETNO is precisely for Extreme (while TNO stands for Trans Neptunian Object). The population of these celestial bodies known today is still limited to a dozen components, which are found to orbit the Sun at distances between 150 and 525 astronomical units (an astronomical unit is the average distance Earth-Sun, approximately 150 million of kilometers).
“These objects possessing orbital parameters unexpected make us believe that some invisible forces are changing the trajectories of ETNO and we believe that the most likely explanation is due to the existence other unknown planets beyond the orbit of Pluto,” says Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, adding: “we do not know with certainty their numbers, because the data we used are limited, but our calculations suggest that there must be at least two planets, maybe more, to the boundaries of our solar system.”
A statement quite strong, no doubt about it. The researchers reached their conclusions through computer simulations that have rebuilt the orbital parameters of some ETNO contemplating the effects of Kozai mechanism. This process describes the gravitational perturbations that a massive celestial object exerts on the orbit of another much smaller and far, as in the case of the perturbation of the orbit of the comet 66P / Machholz1 produced by Jupiter.
However the authors of the study just published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal, to be cautious with respect to the proposed results. In fact, the existence of these disturbers of planetary size mussel fact heavily against the predictions of the models of the formation of the solar system, indicating that they should not be planets in circular orbits beyond Neptune. And then, the number of analyzed objects (thirteen in total) is still too small to draw definitive conclusions on the controversial topic. In short, we will have to wait for new and thorough investigation to see if the classic stone thrown in the pond from this research does not prove, however, as is often the case, a hole in the water.