May 06, 2016 I Paul Seaburn

Planet Nine Skeptics Explain Why They’re Skeptical

The evidence points to Planet Nine existing, but we can't explain for certain how it was produced.

Is this the astronomical equivalent of “Pics or it didn't happen”? We know there aren’t any pictures of Planet Nine, the rumored massive planet that allegedly orbits Sun at a distance far beyond the known planets. In lieu of pictures, astronomers will settle for data that show a high probability of the existence of unseen objects. That’s where some skeptics find support for their skepticism.

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If it exists ...

In a new study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers Gongjie Li and Fred Adams of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) conducted millions of computer simulations trying to determine the most likely ways Planet Nine came into our solar system. The computer narrowed it down to the three best possibilities.

The first is that Planet Nine once orbited closer to the Sun but a passing star pulled it away and into its now (supposed) elongated and elliptical circuit. That would make sense except that in most of these cases seen before, the passing star pulls the planet into its own system and carries it away. Li and Adams put the probability of this happening at 10 percent at best.

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Did a passing star pull Planet Nine from the Sun or did the opposite happen?

Li and Adams’ simulations also examined the opposite scenarios – that our Sun was the passing star that either stole Planet Nine from a neighbor or picked it up as it free-floated aimlessly without a star to orbit. They determined the probabilities of these events at less than two percent.

They also considered the popular theory that Planet Nine was formed with Jupiter and Neptune and their competing gravitational pulls eventually flung it far out into its alleged elliptical orbit. Li believes this is improbable since it would have required Planet Nine to be formed early in the Sun’s existence when it was much closer to other stars and would have been pulled out of the solar system completely (as in the first scenario).

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How do you prove the existence of a planet that shouldn't exist?

As the skeptics see it, Planet Nine is a planet that shouldn’t exist and they have the simulated probabilities to kinda sorta prove it. However, until they present a simulation or model showing a probability of zero that Planet Nine exists, we have to say to the skeptics as well as to the believers …

Pics or it didn't happen.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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