It''s important that stars like our Sun are usually observed individually, and often there are one or more sibling stars scattered nearby. It''s difficult to understand how star formation works by beginning with massive molecular clouds that required them to collapse under their own weight and begin the internal ignition of nuclear fusion. Many of these systems are likely to consist of two starsorbiting a common center of mass.As many as 85 percent of stars are believed to belong to such systems.
In a research published by the Royal Astronomical Society back in 2007, "Embedded binaries and their dense cores" was one of the first deep dives into whether the Sun ever had a twin, although several research papers have been published in the coming years, but one particular interesting story, which was published in 2020, utilized modern technology to investigate the core question, and it just so happens to bring the mysterious Planet X into the discussion.
So until 1781, our solar system was thought to be capable of transporting only six planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth (naturally), Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, all of which could easily be seen through the most basic telescopes, or even with the naked eye in exceptional conditions.
On the other hand, Uranus is capable of reaching 1.8 billion miles (2.9 billion kilometers) away from the Sun, but at their closest closest approach to one another, they are separated by 1.6 billion miles (2.6 billion kilometers). On the flip side, they can be reached 1.98 billion miles (3.2 billion kilometers). Uranus has taken 84 years to complete one voyage around the Sun.
Sir William Herschel is credited with discovering and cataloging an additional "800 double stars and 2,500 nebulae," according to the study. Moreover, "he was the first astronomer to correct the spiral structure of our Milky Way Galaxy."
Neptune was nearly discovered by Herschel as well, which has an extremely special history that will guide us further down the Planet X rabbit hole, but for starters, it was ultimately discovered on September 23-24, 1846. As the story goes,:
"The discovery was made based on mathematical calculations of its predicted position due to observed disturbances in the orbit of the planet Uranus. Neptune is too faint to be visible to the naked eye owing to its enormous distance from the Sun.
Astronomers soon discovered a moon orbiting Neptune, but it took more than a century to find a second one. Our knowledge of distant Neptune significantly increased from the scientific observations made during the Voyager 2 flyby in 1989, including the discovery of five additional moons and the confirmation of dark rings."
Although the unique orbits of some dwarf planets and other small, icy objects in the Kuiper Belt may still be explained, some astronomers believe they may lurk beyond Pluto.
This theoretical planet has been given many names... Nibiru, Tycho, etc. but we''ll just go with Planet 9. If this planet does exist, it would travel many billions beyond Pluto, in a portion of the Kuiper Belt that receives very little sunlight or energy. For example, it would take the planet between 7,400 and 18,500 years to complete one full orbit around the Sun. Pluto has yet to make one full orbit since its discovery, and it was officially discovered in 1930.
According to NASA, "Caltech researchers have discovered mathematical evidence suggesting that there may be a "Planet X" deep in the solar system. This hypothetical Neptune-sized planet orbits our Sun in a highly elongated orbit far beyond Pluto. The object, nicknamed "Planet Nine," might have a mass of about ten times the size of Earth.
Both evidence suggest that Planet 9 was built alongside the other planets in our solar system billions of years ago, and that it just passed through long enough to shake things up before disappearing again.
According to NASA, Caltech astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown have announced new research that shows a giant planet tracing an unusual, extended orbit in the outer solar system. This prediction is based on detailed mathematical modeling and computer simulations, rather than direct observation. This significant object might explain the unique orbits of at least five smaller objects discovered in the distant Kuiper Belt."
Brown and Batygin discovered that six trans-Neptunian objects in the Kuiper belt were likely to be clustered together. This clustering, they theorized, was caused by the gravitational impact of a huge planet hiding somewhere in the far reaches of the outer Solar System, at least 400 AU away.
"It''s certainly an exciting experience for me as a planetary scientist and for us all." Jim Green, the director of NASA''s Planetary Science Division, said: "This is not the detection or discovery of a new planet. "There''s a so-called Planet X. It''s too early to say with certainty. It''s an early assumption based on limited observations. It''s the beginning of a process that might lead to an exciting outcome."
A new theory was published in the Astrophysical Journal Lettersby from Harvard University in 2020, which claims that Planet 9 might not only exist, but that there may once be a binomial companion to our sun.
"Dr. Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard, and Amir Siraj, a Harvard undergraduate student, have postulated that the existence of a long-lost stellar binary companion in the sun''s birth clusterthe gathering of stars formed together with the sun from the same dense cloud of molecular gascould explain the formation of the Oort cloud.
The Oort Cloud is thought to be a gigantic spherical shell over the Sun, planets, and Kuiper Belt objects that had billions or trillions of icy pieces of space debris left over from the solar system. It is theorized to be the source of long-period comets.
The Oort Cloud is also quite distant, with theinner edge between 2,000 and 5,000 AU from the Sun and the outer edge may be up to 100,000 AU from the Sun (one AU is the distance separating Earth from the Sun). For comparison, Pluto''s elliptical orbit puts it between 30 and 50 AU from the Sun.
According to Loeb, the crystals in the Oort cloud might have been combined with a binary companion to our Sun. "Binary systems are far more efficient at capturing objects than are single stars. "If the Oort cloud formed as observed, it would imply that the Sun did in fact have a similar mass that was lost before the Sun left its birth cluster."
According to a news report from the Harvard Center for Astrophysics, "Popular theory associates the formation of the Oort cloud with debris left over from the formation of the solar system and its neighbors, where objects were scattered by the planets to large distances, and some were exchanged amongst stars. However, a binary model may be the missing piece in the puzzle.
Previous models have had difficulties producing the anticipated ratio between scattered disk objects and outer Oort cloud objects. The binary capture model offers significant improvement and refinement, which is apparently obvious in retrospect: most sun-like stars are born with binary companions."
This possibility may be used to explain the existence of Planet 9.Previous models were unclear on where trans-Neptunian objects like the theoretical Planet 9 might have originated. This new model, however, increases the odds.
Assuming there were once two stars in our solar system, separated by roughly 1,500 AU, increases the odds of the pair photographing a significant, trans-Neptunian object like Planet 9by a factor of 20. That is until a neighboring star passes through and separated three objects leaving behind only the Sun.
Last year, a team led by physicist Kevin Napier, conducted a meta-analysis of investigations into the orbits of extreme trans-Neptunian objects. The researchers discovered that the objects impacted orbits might be explained without the presence of a nearby planet.
The investigation concluded that the observed objects only appear to be clustered due to a selection bias. Nevertheless, others disagree, claiming that more data is needed. This may soon be the case.
Both the Oort cloud and the proposed location of Planet 9 are far too distant for direct observation. However, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory (VRO) in Chili, which was launched in 2021, will begin a ten-year survey of the sky in 2022. This is expected to detect tens of thousands more Kuiper belt objects. A close examination of their orbits might be able to confirm or deny the existence of Planet 9, but provide guidance on its origin and location.
"If the VRO verifys Planet Nine''s existence and a captured origin, and also discovers a population of similarly captured dwarf planets, then the binary model will be favored over the lone stellar history that has been long-assumed," says Loeb.