The skin of not killed bear: astronomers argue over the name of unproven planet in the Solar system

Among the scientists ignite passion about a hypothetical planet which can be beyond the orbit of Pluto. Moreover, the dispute involves not only evidence of her existence, but also how to call this world. Nobody knows really on the outer reaches of our Solar system has another planet, because scientists still have not found it with telescopes. And yet, many indirect signs indicate its existence.

For example, in the conclusions of a study published in may this year, said the object BP519 2015 with inexplicably high eccentricity orbit and the great tilt.

Earlier speculation said that, if on the edge of the Solar system is another planet, its orbit lies at least 20 times beyond the orbit of Neptune, the planet itself and thus probably has a mass 10 times larger than the earth. Scientists may report as one of the reasons that explain the strange orbit of the object BP519 2015, result explanation based on this assumption.

This “invisible” world is most often mentioned in scientific articles as “Deva planet”. The name was proposed in 2016, after exactly ten years after the international astronomical Union deprived Pluto of the status of the ninth planet of the Solar system and transferred to the category of dwarf planets. But as mentioned above, the name “Ninth planet” has faced criticism from some scientists, and then the spores came into a new debate about the status of Pluto.

American planetary scientist Alan stern, head of the space mission “New horizons”, said in a conversation with Business Insider that he was “strongly against” the term “Ninth planet”.

“It’s a blatant attempt to erase the legacy of Clyde Tombaugh, and it’s just offensive,” said stern, Recalling who actually opened the ninth planet of the Solar system, which she was more than 75 years.

“I hope everyone will come to their senses and begin to call it at least “Planet X”, as do most responsible writers.”

Stern is an ardent supporter of the planetary nature of Pluto. In 2015, after the space probe New horizons flew past Pluto, stern said that the decision to deprive the world of planet status is “nonsense”. Two years later, he and five other scientists appealed to the international astronomical Union to reconsider the definition of “planet” and let the so-called almost all rounded objects, unless they are stars.

However, the two scientists first suggested the existence of a “Ninth planet” and calling her so in 2016 – Mike brown and Konstantin Batygin – do not agree with the criticism of stern and his historical argument.

“Planet X” or “Ninth planet”?

The name “planet X” is deeply rooted in the history of astronomy — in the days that followed the discovery of Neptune in 1846. Astronomers then noted some strangeness in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus, which they could not explain.

In 1903, Percival Lowell, the astronomer who laid the scientific basis, on the basis of which, the opening of Pluto, spoke about the possibility of the existence of the ninth planet “X”, which could cause the observed anomalies in the orbits of the other two planets. In 1905, he began his search with the help of his Observatory. In 10 years of searching, he has received hundreds of photos of the space, but was not able to detect the planet. Lowell died in 1916-m.

In 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, coincidentally also worked at the Lowell Observatory, discovered the world, the existence of which was suspected, but not found in its predecessor. Tombo called a detected object Pluto. Partly because later found it also in the old photos, which made Lowell. So the initials of Percivale Lowell formed the basis of the names of the discovered planet.

But even after the discovery of Pluto, scientists still believed that somewhere there may be still not found “planet X” is affecting the orbit of Uranus. This opinion lasted until 1989, when the spacecraft “Voyager 2” flew past Neptune. Seizing the moment, scientists have discovered that Neptune is somewhat smaller in size than previously thought (the difference is about equal to the mass of Mars), and this discovery helped to explain the observed strangeness with the orbit of Uranus.

Batygin and brown say that that’s why they and many other astronomers are trying to avoid the term “planet X”.

“The name “planet X” is not just a General reference to some unknown planet, and a very specific prediction of Lowell, which led to the (accidental) discovery of Pluto. Our assumption of the existence of another planet within the Solar system are not connected with this prophecy,” shared brown in conversation with Business Insider.

Batygin, in turn, explained the words of his colleague the following:

“The reason why we call this planet “Ninth” stems from the fact that the story about “Planet X” has long been settled. “Ninth planet” is the most accurate descriptive term for what we hunt.”

The scientist also adds that this term “does not in any way trying to belittle the merit of Clyde Tombaugh” as the man who discovered the Pluto, and the Kuiper belt – a region at the external borders of the Solar system, densely populated by small icy celestial bodies (dwarf planets, asteroids, comets and so on).

Batygin opposed to the term “planet X” for another reason: he doesn’t want them to brown the discovery had anything to do with the hypothetical planet that, according to the predictions could destroy the Earth, sooner or later she fell.

“Fools never cease to speculate on the topic of “Planet X” that are supposed to destroy the Earth. I keep getting emails from these people. Together with the term “Ninth planet”, we would like to protect itself from all these stories,” says Batygin.

Stern, in turn, claims that the term “planet X” is used to refer to objects not yet confirmed its existence, and therefore suitable for use in this case.

The search for new worlds beyond the orbit of Pluto

Stern and his colleagues at all doubt that beyond the orbit of Pluto could be another planet.

“They are looking for her for two years, but the result is no” — said the scientist.

Brown and Batygin, in turn, do not agree with this criticism, pointing to the fact that the opening of the same Pluton took more than 25 years of effort.

“The hypothesis of the “Ninth planet” has been kept steadily,” says Batygin.

To search for the planets he, along with brown currently uses a telescope “Subaru”, mounted on top of a volcano Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii. However, the search is accompanied by serious complications, the researchers note.

The “review search “the Ninth planet” is a very difficult task. Mainly due to weather conditions,” says Batygin.

“Last year, due to very bad weather conditions and heavy cloud cover we lost more than half the time allotted for observation. But we’ll get to work with a telescope this fall. We will continue to search the planet, while the theory of its existence kept steadily on their feet.”

At the same time, both scientists do not like the hypothesis about that strange anomaly in the orbit of the object 2015 BP519 could be called a group of objects with common gravity, wandering somewhere beyond the orbit of Neptune.

This theory was very recently proposed by astronomers at the University of Colorado, however electrically it is not convinced. The scientist noted that in this case the group of objects would need to have a common ground, which would have to exceed the mass of the entire Kuiper belt.

“What they proposed, is in direct conflict with what we know about the Kuiper belt,” said Batygin.

As for stern, a scientist preparing for a new phase of the space mission “New horizons”. Recall that the probe recently awoke and prepared to do research 2014 MU69 object, known officially as Ultima Thule, which from Latin means “extreme limit”. It is expected that the probe will reach the Ultima Thule of January 1, 2019, making it the most remote from earth, the object that is going to investigate with the help of the spacecraft.

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