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In Search of The Solar System’s Ninth Planet

When Pluto was downgraded to a “dwarf planet” in 2006, the number of officially known planets in our Solar System decreased from nine to eight. But astronomers have been seeing strange gravitational patterns beyond the planet Neptune. Dubbed as “trans-Neptunian objects”, or TNOs, these objects suggest that there is a ninth planet in our Solar System. Various theories about these TNOs have been offered.

The hypothetical planet, dubbed “Planet Nine,” would orbit our star at hundreds of times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
It’s been a contentious topic, with some writing off the odd behavior of TNOs as being caused by a cluster of much smaller space rocks. Others predict that such a planet would be five times the mass of the Earth, orbiting our star at about 400 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun.
Finally, there’s the possibility that Planet Nine is actually a teeny-tiny black hole left over from the Big Bang. So tiny, in fact, that it’d only measure about five centimeters across — basically impossible to see with any kind of telescope.
“There has been a great deal of speculation concerning alternative explanations for the anomalous orbits observed in the outer solar system,” explained Amir Siraj, a Harvard undergraduate student, in a statement. “One of the ideas put forth was the possibility that Planet Nine could be a grapefruit-sized black hole with a mass of five to 10 times that of the Earth.”

But if the so-called “ninth planet” is not really a planet, but a very tiny black hole, then how would astronomers confirm its existence?

Learn more about this intriguing story over at Futurism.

(Image Credit: Comfreak/ Pixabay)

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