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Indian-origin Researcher part of Team that Discovered Mars-sized object Lurking at Edge of Solar System

Something unknown is warping the average orbital plane of the outer solar system

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Solar System
Mars-sized planetary mass object lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. Pixabay
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New York, June 26, 2017: Researchers, including one of the Indian-origin, have found evidence of an unknown, Mars-sized “planetary mass object” lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. This object would be different from — and much closer than — the so-called Planet Nine, a planet whose existence yet awaits confirmation, according to the study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Astronomical Journal.

In the paper, Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) present compelling evidence of a yet-to-be-discovered planetary body with a mass somewhere between that of Mars and Earth. The mysterious mass, the authors showed, has given away its presence — for now — only by controlling the orbital planes of a population of space rocks known as Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO), in the icy outskirts of the solar system.

ALSO READ: KELT-9B : Scientists Discover Hottest Giant Planet of the Solar System

While most KBOs — debris left over from the formation of the solar system — orbit the Sun with orbital tilts (inclinations) that average out to what planetary scientists call the invariable plane of the solar system, the most distant of the Kuiper Belt’s objects do not. Their average plane, Volk and Malhotra discovered, is tilted away from the invariable plane by about eight degrees. In other words, something unknown is warping the average orbital plane of the outer solar system. “The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass,” says Volk, a postdoctoral fellow at LPL and the lead author of the study.

“According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured,” Volk said. For the study, Volk and Malhotra analysed the tilt angles of the orbital planes of more than 600 objects in the Kuiper Belt in order to determine the common direction about which these orbital planes all precess. Precession refers to the slow change or “wobble” in the orientation of a rotating object. (IANS)

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Could our solar system be made of bubbles?

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Solar system could have formed in the bubbles produced by a giant, long-dead star
Could our solar system be formed of bubbles around the massive star? wikimedia commons

New York, Dec 26, 2017: Floating a new theory about the birth of our solar system, a new study says that it could have formed in the bubbles produced by a giant, long-dead star which was more than 40 to 50 times the size of our own Sun.

Despite the many impressive discoveries humans have made about the universe, scientists are yet to come to a consensus about the birth story of our solar system.

The general prevailing theory is that our solar system formed billions of years ago near a supernova.

But the new scenario, detailed in the Astrophysical Journal, instead begins with a giant type of star called a Wolf-Rayet star.

They burn the hottest of all stars, producing tonnes of elements which are flung off the surface in an intense stellar wind.

As the Wolf-Rayet star sheds its mass, the stellar wind plows through the material that was around it, forming a bubble structure with a dense shell.

“The shell of such a bubble is a good place to produce stars,” because dust and gas become trapped inside where they can condense into stars, said study co-author Nicolas Dauphas, Professor at University of Chicago in the US.

The researchers estimate that one to 16 per cent of all Sun-like stars could be formed in such stellar nurseries.

The study addresses a nagging cosmic mystery about the abundance of two elements in our solar system compared to the rest of the galaxy.

Meteorites left over from the early solar system suggests there was a lot of aluminium-26.

In addition, studies increasingly suggest we had less of the isotope iron-60.

This brings scientists up short, because supernovae produce both isotopes.

“It begs the question of why one was injected into the solar system and the other was not,” said co-author Vikram Dwarkadas from University of Chicago.

This brought the scientists to Wolf-Rayet stars, which release lots of aluminium-26, but no iron-60.

As for the fate of the giant Wolf-Rayet star, the researchers believe that its life ended long ago, likely in a supernova explosion or a direct collapse to a black hole. (IANS)

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