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New terra incognita of universe

New terra incognita of universe
Highlights

How much do we know about the universe Almost nothing That is why a previously unknown dwarf planet circling through the far reaches of our solar system and officially designated as 2015 TG387 is exciting the world of science a lot The small spherical object, which is probably a ball of ice, is nicknamed the Goblin and its existence points to the possibility of another asyet unseen, Neptunesi

How much do we know about the universe? Almost nothing. That is why a previously unknown dwarf planet circling through the far reaches of our solar system and officially designated as 2015 TG387 is exciting the world of science a lot. The small spherical object, which is probably a ball of ice, is nicknamed the Goblin and its existence points to the possibility of another as-yet unseen, Neptune-sized planet nearby.

The vacancy caused by the loss of Pluto may soon be filled by this Planet Nine. This one is suspected to be in orbit far beyond Pluto in a mysterious region known as Oort Cloud. The Goblin appears to be under the gravitational pull of this giant unseen object. The ‘perturber’, as they call Planet Nine, should weigh between 5 and 20 earth masses and follow an elliptical orbit, hundreds or even 1,000 times more distant from the Sun than Earth. Telescope search have not found this hypothetical planet yet.

But, scientists have discovered a dozen objects or so with distinct, unusual orbits that bolster its case. The Goblin sits right in the middle of the mysterious, strange-orbited cluster astronomers have observed in the solar system. When the celestial body was discovered, it was two and half times farther away from the Sun than Pluto is right now. But, the sad truth is that the Goblin alone will not help the scientists.

Astronomers need to find more of these objects to sharpen their search for a new neighbour in our solar system. Their strange orbits reveal clues about the gravitational forces acting on them, which in turn, provide information about the location of the hypothetical planet. Or is it a mere wishful thinking on part of human beings? Just because we want to see something, are we imagining it?

There is another question of collective gravity being in place with smaller objects moving together and around developing the same. There are differences in opinion among the scientists on several counts and all are justifiable. The true edge of solar system is defined by where the Sun's gravity dominates and everything can be considered to orbit it.

This rests beyond the Oort Cloud, a sphere of icy objects at a distance of 100,000AU. To escape the dominance of the Sun's gravity one would need to travel past this point. Restless mankind has explored almost all of the Earth, but planets around other stars are the new terra incognita. Astronomers have developed a host of effective methods for finding them. The debate over a new planet in the solar system has many layers, including a rather trivial but contentious one like naming it. But for traditionalists, this very name, Planet Nine, is quite irking as it demotes Pluto. Keeping it aside, there is another argument regarding whether or not one could call it strange.

Astronomers only have surveyed a fraction of the sky in their search: perhaps the pattern they have spotted in one slice of the solar system only looks like a pattern because they can't see the rest and these objects might actually be evenly distributed. Well, we are the real dwarfs!

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