As soon as astronomers managed to find more clues about the existence of a large world orbiting the sun in the outer edges of the solar system, the classic planetary cause of doom was revived as a possible trigger regarding mass extinction on Earth.
Yes, I'm talking about Planet X. And yes, we are preparing for a huge buzz.
Before plunging into cometary effects, extinction and possible exciting planetary discoveries, let's follow the dramatic story of Planet X.
At the turn of the 20th century, astronomers tried to locate massive planets in the outer Solar System using a clever stunt of a planetary discovery that was already developed based on studying the orbits of known planets to see if they show some strange anomalies .
Thus, Neptune was discovered in 1846, after the French mathematician Le Verrier and the British mathematician and astronomer John Coach Adams independently calculated the exact location of the planet, looking at the orbital perturbation in the Uranium orbit. Neptune's gravitational mass periodically affected Uranus, producing anomalies in its motion. Naturally, when Neptune was already open, astronomers attempted to use this trick again, following Neptune’s orbit exactly. Anomalies were found, and the hunt for a not yet found massive planet was discovered. It turned out to be the original chase for Planet X.
When the American astronomer Clyde Tombo was discovered Pluto in 1930, it was believed that the distant world was another massive planet. However, after many years, it became clear that Neptune’s orbital perturbations were observational errors, and Pluto was in fact light planetary, which means it cannot have a gravitational effect on Neptune’s orbits. This is the factor that contributed to its re-classification as a dwarf planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Although many other small objects were found in the depths of the solar system (an area known as the Kuiper belt), the desire to find a massive world has not disappeared. But the hunt for massive Planet X is largely over with the discovery of Pluto.
But the secrets of the outer solar system attracted scientists and conspiracy theorists like a magnet. Some oddities in the distribution of objects of the Kuiper belt, for example, seemed to hint that a slow massive object lurked in orbit beyond Pluto. In addition, when studying the paleontological record of the Earth, our planet, as is commonly believed, was affected by the quasi-periodic events of mass extinction. Could not the open planetary body on the Kuiper Belt (or even the more distant Oort cloud) be the frantic cause of the destabilization of the orbits of comets, which are then sent to the inner solar system, causing all kinds of life havoc on our planet every few million years?
The deadly potential of such a hypothesis really got a way out in the form of the divination of the end of the world and turned into worthy theories that culminated with the end of the Mayan calendar (“Long Count”) on December 21, 2012. Speculators and fame hunters concocted all kinds of doomsday scenarios that were to happen that day. One of them is the meaningless mention that Planet X (or with the even greater farce “Nibiru”) raced frantically through the solar system to, as you already guessed, destroy all life on Earth. Well, or with the help of cometary fire or solar firestorm. These were good times. Needless to say, 2012 came and went, and we are still here. But this year, the hypothesis of Planet X has revived previous fears. This time, this is not the culmination of a joke with a bad end of the world. Now it is based on the observations of the strange movement of objects in the outer solar system.
In January, an astronomer at Caltech and a prolific Kuiper belt object discoverer Mike Brown and his colleague Konstantin Batygin announced the discovery of a group of small ice objects beyond Pluto's orbit, which seem to be traveling in the same direction and with the same inclination of the orbit. The probability that this may happen is not great, so Brown and Batygin believe that their movement is caused by the presence of another, still invisible, planet in the outer solar system, perhaps 10 times the mass of the Earth in orbit with a distance 1000 distances between the Sun and the Earth.
“When we discovered this, my jaw almost fell to the floor,” Brown said then.
Thus, there is circumstantial evidence of the existence of a massive planet, which may be large enough to affect the orbits of a group of small objects in the Kuiper belt, but at the same time small and darkened enough to avoid detection with infrared and visible light. Like Neptune’s discovery, perhaps Brown and Batygin’s calculations will direct astronomers to accurately finding the world nicknamed Planet Nine. This is certainly an exciting time for planetary detection within our solar system.
Now in an article published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the specter of mass extinctions reappeared, and attached itself to the excitement of Planet X and the new scientific hunt for Planet Nine. According to Daniel Vitmaer and John Mats, who in 1985 co-authored an article for Time magazine entitled “Did comets kill dinosaurs? A bold new theory of mass extinctions ”, they revised their theories of mass extinction and formed a connection with the search for Planet Nine.
According to their calculations, the Earth is subject to major extinction events every 27 million years caused by a hail of comets scattered on Earth by gravitational instabilities caused by an eccentric orbit of a large planetary body. Such as Planet Nine. It seemed that planetary bombing would be enough. But no. More shifting comets would have disintegrated close to the Sun in the inner solar system, creating clouds of debris that eclipse sunlight, causing global cooling, accelerating the death of life on Earth.
Although this is an interesting idea, additional work is still needed, even if the hypothetical Planet Nine is found. Although there is evidence of mass extinctions on Earth associated with periods of cometary / asteroid bombing, this is not clear evidence of the existence of a massive planet in the outer solar system. Previous studies have hinted that cases of comet bombardments coincide with the passage of the solar system through our galactic plane. This is actually a dense band of dark matter that causes cometary dramas in a cycle of about 26 million years or so. There is also a possibility that the apparent frequency of events related to the extinction and influence of comets cannot be real.
This study suggests that Planet Nine has a huge orbital period — it will need to go through the Kuiper Belt every 26 million years for the theory to stay afloat. In an interview with MailOnline, Brown noted that Planet Nine, which he is looking for, most likely is not Planet X. “Vitmaer has been speculating for decades on a very distant massive planet pushing comets around. It must have an orbital period of something like 27 million years, ”said Brown. “Although the idea has or does not make sense, it certainly has nothing to do with Planet Nine, which is much closer to the Sun, and thus it takes only 15,000 years to go around it.”
“The evidence for Planet Nine says nothing about whether or not the more distant Planet X exists.”