There's an unidentified object in a strange orbit history Neptune, and no one can explain it - Physics-Astronomy.org

There's an unidentified object in a strange orbit history Neptune, and no one can explain it

Scientists have exposed a mysterious object located on the outskirts of the Solar System, and while we don't know a great deal about it yet, what we do know doesn't create a whole lot of sense.
Nicknamed Niku, it appear to be a trans-Neptunian object, which means it's a minor planet that exist past Neptune. But that's where things begin to get a little strange.While there are lots of slight planets that we recognize about – ie. objects smaller than planets that aren't comets – and scientists are verdict more all the time, Niku doesn't perform like the rest of them.
For starters, Niku orbit the Sun on a plane that's tilted 110 degrees to the plane of the Solar System – the flat orbital disk in which the planets shift around the Sun. It's presently above the plane and rising higher, but it will eventually begin lowering as it orbits back around. Weirder still, while nearly all the matter in our Solar System orbit the Sun in the same way – called the prograde direction – Niku bucks the trend, with a retrospective (or backwards) orbit of the Sun.
It's not the 1st  time a trans-Neptunian object has been exposed with a retrospective orbit, but when you combine it with Niku's orbital tilt, it become clear that there's something very strange about this minor planet.
"It suggests that there's additional going on in the outer Solar System than we're completely aware of," astrophysicist Matthew Holman from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics explain to Shannon Hall at New Scientist.
Holman was part of an international team of scientists that exposed Niku, using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid reply System (Pan-STARRS) in Maui, Hawaii. The great faintness of the object – it's 160,000 times fainter than Neptune – suggests Niku is moderately small, perhaps less than 200 kilometres in diameter.
But what actually perplexes the researchers is what set Niku in its bizarre orbit – against the flow of pretty a great deal all else in the Solar System, and at a crazy angle to boot.
"Angular momentum forces all to have that one spin way all the same way," astronomer Michele Bannister from Queens University Belfast in the UK, who wasn't involved in the discover, told New Scientist. "It's the similar thing with a spinning top, each particle is spinning the same direction."
So for Niku to break with this, scientists think the object must have come into collision with amazing else, or was pulled off course by one more gravitational source. But right now, nobody knows what this other object or group of objects could be.
It's likely that Niku is part of a group of objects all moving with a strange alignment to the plane of the Solar System.
If such a grouping sounds familiar, that could be because it was this kind of gathering of strangely aligned substance in the Kuiper belt that gave rise to the Planet Nine hypothesis – the suspected (but unconfirmed) massive planet on the outer edge of the Solar System that orbits the Sun once every 10,000 to 20,000 years.
Holman and the Niku team examine whether Niku's unusual movements could be credited to the existence of Planet Nine – or perhaps a dwarf planet in the vicinity – but the minor planet is too close to the centre of the Solar System, so there's still no clarification as yet.
"We don't know the answer," admits Holman.
It's worth point out that the team's learn has yet to be peer-reviewed, but it's available on arXiv.org while the researchers take feedback prior to magazine. Until that time, or until we know more, some are taking the Niku findings with a granule of salt.
"As they say in the document, what they have right now is a hint," Konstantin Batygin, one of the researchers who suggested the being of Planet Nine, told New Scientist. "If this hint develops into a totaly story that would be fantastic."
But that doesn't mean we can't get a little keyed up about this crazy planetary anomaly. As Bannister tweeted when she heard the news: "I hope everyone has buckled their seatbelts since the outer Solar System presently got a lot weirder."


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