Scientists actually are developing computer simulations under the guidance of Jacob Fleisig, to explore the dynamics of the detached objects.
An artist's impression of the dwarf planet Sedna, some 12.9 billion kilometres (8 billion miles) from the sun, along with a hypothetical moon.
"He came into my office one day and says, 'I'm seeing some really cool stuff here, '" Madigan said. Some of the larger TNOs, including Sedna, are considered "detached objects", meaning they do not have a strong gravitational interaction with Neptune or any other body in the solar system.
Four years ago, astronomers suggested an incredible idea - that there was a huge, unseen planet in the solar system, orbiting beyond Neptune. Fleisig, an undergraduate in astrophysics and his team of researchers suggest that perhaps a large singular body isn't what is causing the symptoms of Planet 9, but instead a large grouping of asteroids that are pulling on neighboring bodies.
The skeptics include Madigan and Fleisig, who, along with study co-author Alexander Zderic, a UC Boulder graduate student, think they've found an alternate solution to the weird orbital signatures.
As Bennett reports, the search for Planet 9 began in 2014 with the publication of study showing that two objects that orbit the sun beyond Neptune (Sedna and 2012 VP113) had nearly circular orbits.
This research was supported by NASA Solar System Workings and the Rocky Mountain Advanced Computing Consortium Summit Supercomputer.
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According to the researchers' simulations, the TNOs move like hands on a clock, with the most massive objects moving slowly, like the hour hand, and the smaller ones ticking along quickly, like the minute hand. "What does their collective gravity do?" "The smaller ones move faster than the larger ones; when the bodies crash, the orbits change in shape and orientation due to these small-scale interactions ". This is what happened in Sedna's case, says the team, who puts the extreme orbits of these objects exclusively down to the power of collective gravity.
Ten years after Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet, the possibility of a new Planet Nine was put forward by a Caltech team in January 2016.
These bumper car-like interactions can explain numerous anomalies out there, without needing to invent a huge Planet Nine.
Where Do Dinosaurs Fit Into All Of This?
The gravitational interactions among TNOs may also explain another odd event: the extinction of the nonavian dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.
If this is true, then Earth makes no exception and could also be subjected to the repeating cycle of cosmic bombarding triggered by the small gravitational interactions in the Kuiper Belt. "While we're not able to say that this pattern killed the dinosaurs", Fleisig added, "it's tantalizing".
According to the team, the dinosaur-killing asteroid that hammered our planet 65 million years ago, wiping out almost 75 percent of life on Earth, could have been sent on its collision path by the periodic comet showers that turned up in Fleisig's computer model.