Not Planet X, but disc of icy bodies behind mysterious orbit beyond Neptune

NASA Study Finds Unexpectedly Primitive Atmosphere Around 'Warm Neptune'
The atmosphere of the distant "warm Neptune" HAT-P-26b, illustrated here, is unexpectedly primitive, composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. NASA

Many conspiracy theorists and some space experts strongly believe that a hypothesized planet named 'Planet X' or 'Planet Nine' is responsible for the mystery orbits in the farthest reach of our solar system, beyond Neptune.

However, a new study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge and the American University of Beirut has suggested that it might be the combined gravitational force created by a disc comprised of icy bodies.

The study now published in the journal Astronomical Journal also suggested that this giant disc of small icy bodies might be having a combined mass as much as ten times that of Earth. It should be noted that the Kuiper belt lies beyond Neptune, and this area is mostly comprised of trans-Neptunian objects (TNO) that orbit the sun in almost every directions.

However, a few years back, astronomers discovered some mysterious trans-Neptunian objects, that stand out from the rest of the TNOs by sharing, on average, the same spatial orientation.

Scientists later speculated that this mysterious character of these space bodies might not be attributed to the influence of the eighth planet in the solar system, and this made many believe that a yet-unknown ninth planet might be the result of this weird orbits.

"The Planet Nine hypothesis is a fascinating one, but if the hypothesized ninth planet exists, it has so far avoided detection. We wanted to see whether there could be another, less dramatic and perhaps more natural, cause for the unusual orbits we see in some TNOs," said Antranik Sefilian, co-author of the study, and a PhD student in Cambridge's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, in a recent statement.

"If you remove planet nine from the model and instead allow for lots of small objects scattered across a wide area, collective attractions between those objects could just as easily account for the eccentric orbits we see in some TNOs," he added.

In the meantime, a section of conspiracy theorists still believes that a giant planet which they call Nibiru is lurking at the outer reaches of the solar system. These conspiracy theorists strongly argue that this giant planet will one day hit the earth causing the doomsday.

Interestingly Sefilian also added that there is a possibility of a Planet Nine in the outer edges of the solar system along with this giant ice disc.

"It's also possible that both things could be true - there could be a massive disc and a ninth planet. With the discovery of each new TNO, we gather more evidence that might help explain their behaviour," added Sefilian.

Related topics : Space