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CosmosUp | August 14, 2022

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Astronomers: There are at Least Two more Large Planets Beyond Pluto

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Astronomers: There are at Least Two more Large Planets Beyond Pluto

If you’ve been having trouble remembering how many planets are in the solar system after Pluto’s unceremonious demotion, get ready to revise your understanding of the universe again. According to the calculations of scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM, Spain) and the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) not only one, but at least two planets must exist to explain the orbital behaviour of extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNO)

The most accepted theory states that the orbits of ETNOs should be distributed randomly. And yet what is observed is completely different; obviously, something must be influencing their orbits.

“This excess of objects with unexpected orbital parameters makes us believe that some invisible forces are altering the distribution of the orbital elements of the ETNO and we consider that the most probable explanation is that other unknown planets exist beyond Neptune and Pluto,” said Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, one of the researchers, in a news release.

“The exact number is uncertain, given that the data that we have is limited, but our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets, and probably more, within the confines of our solar system.”

Planets beyond Pluto

At least two unknown planets could exist in our solar system beyond Pluto. / Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (click to zoom)

The researchers analysed the Kozai mechanism, related to how a large body’s gravity is exerted on the orbit of another smaller and much further away object.

They used the experience of comet 96P/Machholz1, under the influence of Jupiter, as a reference. Their numerical calculations seem to support their hypothesis.

Despite their surprising results, the authors recognise that their data comes up against two problems. On the one hand, their proposal goes against the predictions of current models on the formation of the solar system, which state that there are no other planets moving in circular orbits beyond Neptune.

However, the recent discovery by the ALMA radio telescope of a planet-forming disk more than 100 astronomical units from the star HL Tauri, which is younger than the Sun and more massive, suggests that planets can form several hundred astronomical units away from the centre of the system.

On the other hand, the team recognises that the analysis is based on a sample with few objects (specifically 13), but they point out that in the coming months more results are going to be published, making the sample larger. “If it is confirmed, our results may be truly revolutionary for astronomy,” says de la Fuente Marcos.

Last year two researchers from the United States discovered a dwarf planet called 2012 VP113 in the Oort cloud, just beyond our Solar System. The discoverers consider that its orbit is influenced by the possible presence of a dark and icy super-Earth, up to ten times larger than our planet.

Bottom Line: The Kuiper Belt, spanning 4.5 to 7.4 billion kilometres, holds trillions of objects which are remnants of the early solar system. Even beyond lies the spherical Oort cloud from where many comets originate.




  1. Luiza

    The Planets of existence, far beyond the orbits of Pluto, is not a fact that most real, very possible, that because the solar system can be much larger than what the researchers thought, because they were clinging to a training model the solar system, which actually is presently obsolete, that because now we have more accurate means of investigation.
    The possibility of these Planets to lie beyond Pluto have a very different orbits and an axis of rotation around the sun much longer.
    There is another possibility to consider, these planets may have different orbits, following the own magnetic field of the solar system, that no one can forget, because it is often crucial in the detection of planetary orbits.
    Importantly, these planets may have very different sizes and can be similar to Pluto or smaller than this planet.
    The possibility of these objects have unexpected orbital parameters, certainly obeys something where so have an opinion, that may be right.
    In what is called the limit of the solar system, there is a waist of micro debris, which certainly are part of something that disintegrated in the distant past during the formation of the solar system for millions of years.
    Or this invisible force that is mentioned in the study, may be related to the magnetic field of the planets themselves, which may have an axis of rotation, or too slow or too fast.
    To get an accurate picture of what is happening is necessary to make detailed investigations, using equipment for this purpose.
    No doubt that the discovery of this dwarf planet in 2012 VP113 in the Oort Cloud, a location outside of our solar system, is to demonstrate that its orbit can influence, and the orbits of planets that may exist in border called the solar system, this is due to its size and its characteristics, in particular the fact that dark Planet Ice Cream and be considered a Super Earth, ten times larger than Jupiter

    • tim

      You make no sense at all. I truly hope English is not your first language.

  2. Laurel Kornfeld

    No one has to accept the controversial, “unceremonious” demotion of Pluto as fact. It was adopted by only four percent of the IAU, most of whom are not planetary scientists, and was opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers in a formal petition. Those who support the IAU decision largely do so to artificially keep the number of solar system planets small so kids can memorize them. Memorization is not important for learning; we don’t ask kids to memorize the names of all the rivers or mountains on Earth, just to know what rivers and mountains are. It is becoming clear that our solar system has far more planets than most of us learned in school, and this is not a bad thing. The number is likely to keep expanding as more discoveries are made.

  3. Suresh parikh

    In the absence of any proof one can calculate about Dark Matter

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