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Earth-Sized Planet Could Be Hiding in Our Own Solar System

Earth-Sized Planet Hiding
Japanese astrophysicists suggest that there could be an Earth-sized planet hiding in our solar system. Credit: ESO / M. Kornmesser / CC BY 2.0

In recent years, there has been significant speculation and ongoing research regarding the potential existence of a mysterious ninth planet in the far reaches of our solar system, aptly named “Planet Nine.”

However, scientists have now uncovered evidence suggesting the presence of another celestial body, one resembling our own Earth, lurking within the Kuiper Belt region. This newfound planetary candidate is much closer to Earth than the theoretical Planet Nine.

The Kuiper Belt is a fascinating region situated beyond Neptune, spanning a distance of approximately 30 to 55 astronomical units (AU).

To put it into perspective, one astronomical unit is equivalent to the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. This belt is a celestial neighborhood teeming with a multitude of icy bodies, including an astonishing number of over a trillion comets, wrote ZME Science.

Gravitational influence of hidden planet on the Kuiper Belt

Through careful and precise observations, a team of Japanese astrophysicists has made a noteworthy discovery within the Kuiper Belt.

They have observed certain Kuiper Belt objects exhibiting peculiar behavior—movements that deviate from what would be expected based on conventional gravitational principles.

These unconventional motions strongly hint at the presence of a more substantial celestial body exerting its gravitational influence within the Kuiper Belt.

The unusual movements of these objects can be explained by the existence of a hidden planet within this region of our solar system, according to Japanese astrophysicists.

Kuiper Belt Planet (KBP) would be 1.5-3 times Earth’s mass

The research findings point to the existence of a previously unknown planetary body, referred to as a “Kuiper Belt Planet (KBP),” positioned at a distance of approximately 200 to 500 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun.

This discovery sets it apart from the hypothetical Planet Nine, which was theorized to be located between 400 and 800 AU from the Sun. Furthermore, the newly proposed Kuiper Belt Planet is estimated to be one and a half to three times the mass of Earth.

For context, Pluto, which was once considered the ninth planet in our solar system before being reclassified as a dwarf planet, resides at a distance of roughly 39 AU from the Sun, mentioned ZME Science.

The astrophysicists behind this research, Patryk Sofia Lykawka of Kindai University and Takashi Ito of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, suggest that the presence of such an Earth-like planet within the Kuiper Belt is plausible.

They argue that it’s possible for a primordial planetary body to have survived in the distant reaches of the Kuiper Belt, as many similar bodies existed in the early stages of our solar system’s formation.

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