According to a recently-published scientific paper, planet nine may not be a planet after all, but a primordial black hole, which would explain why we still have not been able to see the mystery object.
On the outermost edges of our solar system, there’s something massive manipulating the orbits of countless trans-Neptunian bodies, whose oval orbits point in the same direction and lean in the same way, as if an invisible force were attracting them.
The reason why these faraway bodies are all tilted in a specific way remains an enigma. However, the most accepted hypothesis is that the body responsible for this gravitational alteration is a huge planet, which scientists initially called Planet X and later when Pluto lost its category as a planet, Planet Nine.
This elusive world is massive, but due to its eccentric orbit, it is almost impossible to see.
However, scientists have come up with a new theory that may not involve a long-lost planet after all.
Instead, it’s something much scarier.
A recent article published in arXiv by astronomers Jakub Sholtz of the Institute of Particle Physics at Durham University, and James Unwin, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Illinois, suggests that the gravitational pull exerted on the Kuiper Belt objects could actually come from a Primordial Black Hole (PBH), a small type of black hole that the theory says formed during the Big Bang. Primordial black holes could have formed in the very early Universe (less than one second after the Big Bang), during the so-called radiation dominated era.
Although the existence of PBHs has not yet been confirmed, some astronomers think that the universe is full of Primordial Black Holes and that if they do actually exist, they could make up more than 80% of the universe that we cannot see — dark matter.
Sholtz and Unwin analyzed data from the anomalous orbits of six objects in the Kuiper belt and also incorporated recent observations from the OGLE (Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment) on how the light traveling through the solar system seems to double due to an unknown object (or objects).
“Once you start thinking about more exotic objects, like primordial black holes, you think in different ways,” James Unwin, a theoretical physicist, and co-author of the paper told Gizmodo. “We advocate that rather than just looking for it in visible light, maybe look for it in gamma rays. Or cosmic rays.”
A PHB could account for both phenomena. It could be a black hole with the size of a bowling ball with the mass of 10 Earth’s, or a number of smaller PHB’s that add up to that mass, researchers wrote in their study.
The scientists say that direct observations of the mysterious object – if astronomers can find it – would help determine if it is a black hole or, on the contrary, would discard that notion in favor of a giant planet with a similar mass.
For this reason, they propose that astronomers should include in their search for the mysterious object X-ray sources, gamma rays and other types of radiation, something habitual and a kind of tell-tale sign when looking at the environment surrounding a black hole.
If we do spot such signals while searching for the elusive planet, then we would have at least some kind of confirmation that suggests Planet Nine may have been a Primordial Black Hole all along. As noted by Batygin, the man who initially proposed the existence of Planet Nine, the elusive world could be any kind o low-visibility object with the appropriate mass. Speaking to Gizmodo Batyagin revealed: “Planet Nine could be a five-Earth-mass hamburger. But a black hole the size of your wallet is a bit harder to find.”