GOOD

Could Our Solar System Be Hiding Planets Past Pluto?

“My Very Educated Mother” might need to rethink just who’s in her solar neighborhood...

photo via (cc) flickr user Boyarrin

In grade school I learned that our solar system consisted of very educated mothers serving us nine pizzas – a helpful acrostic which covered our entire planetary spectrum, from Mercury to the now-downgraded “planetoid” of Pluto. To this day, my sense of solar spacial reasoning is inextricably tied to images of galactic maternal figures and astronomical Italian food.


But, it seems, science is not content to leave a good mnemonic device alone.

According to two papers recently published by astronomers from Spain’s Complutense University of Madrid, and the University of Cambridge in the UK, there may actually be several large planetary bodies lurking somewhere out beyond Neptune’s orbit. And while we haven’t officially “discovered” those planets just yet, we may already be seeing their influence on the flotsam and jetsam of rock and ice usually found in the farthest reaches of the solar system

Explains Universe Today’s Nancy Atkinson:

...the most accepted theory of trans-Neptunian objects is that they should orbit at a distance of about 150 AU [Note: “Astronomical Units”], be in an orbital plane – or inclination – similar to the planets in our Solar System, and they should be randomly distributed.

But that differs from what is actually observed. What astronomers see are groupings of objects with widely disperse distances (between 150 AU and 525 AU) and orbital inclinations that vary between 0 to 20 degrees.

In their papers, the scientists theorize that the unexpected dispersal and atypical orbital inclinations of these smaller, known objects, are a result of the gravitational presence of several large, undetected planetary bodies – an effect similar to one which they’ve already seen in regards to comets passing in proximity to Jupiter.

Which isn’t to say this theory doesn’t have its detractors. As Atkinson points out, the presence of large planetary bodies that far from the sun would run counter to the common understanding of how solar systems are formed. And so, it seems, the only way to determine if this new theory is accurate is to continue our astronomical observation of the far reaches of the solar system.

In the meantime, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi can take solace in the fact that, while he might not know what the moon is (HINT: it’s a moon) the rest of us may not understand our solar system as well as we thought, either.

Articles
via International Monetary Fund / Flickr and Streetsblog Denver / Flickr

Seventeen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg made a dramatic speech Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In her address, she called for a public and private sector divestment from fossil fuel companies

"Immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels. We don't want these things done by 2050, or 2030 or even 2021 — we want this done now," she said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mocked the teenager on Thursday during a press briefing in Davos.

Keep Reading
The Planet

Even though marathon running is on the decline, half a million people signed up to participate in the 2020 London Marathon. It seems wild that someone would voluntarily sign up to run 26.2 miles, but those half a million people might actually be on to something. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that running a marathon can help reverse signs of aging.

Researchers at Barts and University College London looked at 138 first-time marathon runners between the ages of 21 and 69. "We wanted to look at novice athletes. We didn't include people who said they ran for more than two hours a week," Dr. Charlotte Manisty, the study's senior author and cardiologist at University College London, said per CNN.

Keep Reading
via David Leavitt / Twitter and RealTargetTori / Twitter

Last Friday, GOOD reported on an infuriating incident that went down at a Massachusetts Target.

A Target manager who's come to be known as "Target Tori," was harassed by Twitter troll David Leavitt for not selling him an $89 Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush for a penny.

He describes himself as a "multimedia journalist who has worked for CBS, AXS, Yahoo, and others."

Keep Reading
Communities