Planet X - Known Facts
About Planet X, what scientific facts are known including trivia about the orbit, surface, and more.
Known Facts: The Bode Law of planetary distances predicted that Neptune should lie where Pluto is. The next planet in the sequence would be 7,172 million mi. from the sun. Neptune hasn't deviated far enough from its calculated orbit since discovery for astronomers to pinpoint the position of a possible perturbing planet, but other phenomena suggest that there may be one.
Several planets have families of comets associated with them. Pluto has 5, Neptune 8, Uranus 3, Saturn 6, and Jupiter over 50. One group of 16 comets has its aphelion at 7 billion mi., the magic Bode number. Some astronomers believe this family belongs to an undiscovered planet.
A more recent cometary investigation involves Halley's Comet. In 1972 Joseph Brady used a computer analysis to account for slight discrepancies in the comet's orbit unexplained by perturbations from the known planets. Based on the results, he predicted a large planet, three times as massive as Saturn, with an orbit tilted 120 deg. with respect to the ecliptic. When seen by earth dwellers, this orbit would appear tilted at 60 deg., but moving in a retrograde direction when compared to the other planets. Brady further predicted the eccentricity of the orbit as being 0.07, and said that the planet would have a period nearly twice that of Pluto. It should be large and bright, between the 13th and 14th magnitude, and lie in the direction of the constellation Cassiopeia. Furthermore, the remaining unexplained deviations of Halley's Comet might indicate a second trans-Plutonian planet.
Tombaugh's earlier search did not cover this part of the sky (he surveyed closer to the ecliptic plane), so perhaps a planet does lie there. Astronomers searched in 1972 and 1973, but no planet was found.
If one should be discovered, the view from its surface would be a desolate one. At that distance, the sun would appear as a bright star and no inner planets could be seen. The surface temperature would be near absolute zero, unless the planet had its own internal volcanic or radioactive heat source.
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