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CosmosUp | September 22, 2019

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Structure Of Planet 9: What's It Made Of?

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Researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland have created a detailed model of the hypothetical world Planet 9 to figure out the structure of this world.

In January, astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin found evidence of a massive planet’ existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations. Its presence has been revealed due its gravitational effects that it has on the most distant objects in the Kuiper belt — well beyond the orbit of Pluto. Since then, many scientific papers were published referring to this putative planet and now, a new research reveals even more, the planet 9 makeups.

How massive and how bright is Planet 9? What is its surface temperature and which telescope could spot it? These are the questions that have been pondered by Professor Christoph Mordasini and his doctoral student Esther Linder since planet 9 discovery.

In the new study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, Mordasini have estimated the planet mass, it is a smaller ‘ice-giant’ around 10 times the Earth’s mass and approximately 3.7 times the radius of Earth. Its temperature is -226°C or 47 Kelvin.

This means that the planet’s emission is dominated by the cooling of its core, otherwise the temperature would only be 10 Kelvin,

explains Esther Linder:

Its intrinsic power is about 1000 times bigger than its absorbed power. Therefore, the reflected sunlight contributes only a minor part to the total radiation that could be detected. This also means that the planet is much brighter in the infrared than in the visual.

With our study candidate Planet 9 is now more than a simple point mass, it takes shape having physical properties,

says Mordasini.

 Christoph Mordasini and Esther Linder are experts in modeling the evolution of planets. Usually, they study the formation of young exoplanets located several light years away. In the new paper, they not only modeled the planet size and its temperature, they also estimated its local position.

For me candidate Planet 9 is a close object, although it is about 700 times further away as the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

said Linder in statement.

Planet 9 could be a smaller version of Uranus and Neptune, a small giant ice completely covered with ice and the atmosphere consists of Hydrogen and helium, they added.

So why planet 9 hasn’t been found yet? Planet 9 could have been missed by telescopes. The previous sky surveys only have a very small chance of spotting an object so far away if it is less than 20 Earth masses — e.g: NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer may detect a planet with a mass more than 50 Earth.

This puts an interesting upper mass limit for the planet,

Linder says.

Though, emerging technologies including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which is under construction near Cerro Tololo, Chile, could find Planet 9, or rule out its existence

That is an exciting perspective,

concluded Christoph Mordasini.



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