Scientists have discovered that there are some bizarre events taking place in the outer reaches of the solar system i.e region of space beyond Neptune.
It has been reported that a mysterious object has appeared with a peculiar orbit. Astronomers have also discovered that the object has appeared in the outer reaches of the solar system which is beyond Neptune. Neptune is the eighth planet in our solar system and is the farthest known planet from the Sun inside the solar system.
The identity of the object is still unknown, but scientists do know that the mystery object is orbiting our sun on a plane that is almost at a right angle to the rest of the planets in the solar system.
Furthermore, the object is puzzling astronomers because it is also spinning around the sun in a reverse direction. That is, it is spinning backward i.e. in the opposite direction compared to the rest of the planets in the solar system.
Not only that but the mystery object has also been named “Niku” because of its proximity to Neptune. Though, technically, the unknown object is beyond Neptune.
Scientists have also said that they have little idea about why the mystery object is behaving in such an abnormal fashion. In other words, scientists have been able to confirm that the movements and trajectory of the celestial body are definitely not normal.
That information further mystifies an already weird looking object.
About six years ago, scientists and astrologers were able to manufacture a powerful telescope that was called Pan-STARRS 1 (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System 1 Survey). The telescope was unveiled in 2007 on the Hawaiian Island of Maui and in 2009 it went entirely online and started to yield some pretty fascinating images.
That telescope was specifically designed to hunt down asteroids and comets which would theoretically threaten Earth.
Right now, the trans-Neptunian object doesn’t look like threatening the earth but using that same telescope to study the mystery object has proven to be useful. Since anything and everything astronomers know about the weird object has been because of the PS1 telescope.
The PS-1 telescope is equipped with a 1,400-megapixel sensor and can photograph an area that is 36 times the size of our Moon during one exposure. That telescope is so powerful that it could map out the entire sky in about six months.
Therefore, is seems a pretty sensible choice that scientists have used the same telescope to study the mystery object that has appeared just beyond Neptune.
Planetary systems are defined by a star that is surrounded by flat planes. These flat planes contain dust and gas which form around a given star.
Advanced physics concepts like angular momentum and such, have enabled scientists to determine that planets are forced to circle the sun in the same direction (this phenomenon is known as prograde direction) no matter their size.
Astronomers, through the use of Pan-STARRS telescope that is installed in Haleakala (which is in Maui), have also found out that “Nikus” is currently present above the plane of our solar system.
The object, scientists, have revealed, is actually traveling upwards. The movement of the object is a clear indication that some other unknown force is acting on it which has forced the mystery object to move on its current path.
Matthew Holman who is a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, in an interview given to The New Scientist, said that the trajectory of the mystery objects suggests that there’s more going on in the outer solar system than what scientists are aware of at the moment.
Holman’s team, which is conducting further research on the mystery object, initially thought that Niku’s weird orbit could have been the result of forces that were present beyond Neptune due to other mysterious objects such as Planet Nine.
Now, after much study and analysis, scientists say that Planet Nine could not have possibly influenced Niku since Niky was too close to the solar system for any other celestial body to have a significant impact on it.
Holman’s research team also found out that Niku is approximately 200 kilometers in diameter and is actually one member of a group of objects.
Niku, also known as TNO (or trans-Neptunian Object), is estimated to be 160,000 times fainter than Neptune itself.
This group of objects is equally weird since all the objects that form this mystery group are orbiting the sun in the reverse direction on a similar 110-degree plane.
Scientists are still unable to explain the presence of Niku object and why it has such a weird object.
The data that astrologers have collected regarding Niku hasn’t been enough for the research teams to come to some conclusion about Niku’s existence and its unusual movements.
One of the researchers who has done extensive work on Planet Nine (Planet Nine is the name of an undiscovered world that is expected to be ten times as massive as Earth), Konstantin Batygin, has expressed a sense of excitement because of the new and mysterious trans-Neptunian object.
Batygin told The New Scientist that, “Whenever you have some feature that you can’t explain in the outer solar system” and added, “it’s immensely exciting because it’s in some sense foreshadowing a new development.”
Another astronomer Michele Bannister, who works at Queen’s University in Belfast, tweeted on Monday, “I hope everyone has buckled their seatbelts because the outer solar system just got a lot weirder.”
Bannister was, of course, referring to Niku and further added that she could not be more thrilled to find out more information of the mystery object that has left scientists and astronomers alike confused.
In a series of tweets that followed her first, Bannister said, “It’s wonderful that it’s so confusing,” and then added, “I’m looking forward to seeing what the theoretical analysts do once they get their hands on this one.”
Batygin, who was one of the first astronomers to have announced the existence of Planet Nine earlier this year, hasn’t attached much hope in finding something magical with Niku.
He told The New Scientist, “As they say in the paper, what they have right now is a hint.”
Perhaps it should be mentioned that the team’s study has not been peer-reviewed yet, but the research is available on arXiv.org.
It is likely that once researchers consider the feedback their research receives and make some changes to account for the feedback, we might end up with an entirely different story by the time the study gets published in a journal.
Whether the discovery of Niku turns out to be a significant revelation or not, one thing is for certain; there is a lot of stuff going on beyond the solar system that the scientific community doesn’t know much about.
And that presence of undiscovered treasures is what drives these researchers to always reach out further into the unknown.
Stay tuned for further news on Niku and other mystery objects.