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Science. An alien planet may be trapped on the edge of the solar system

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A large alien planet may be trapped at the edge of our solar system, according to a new study by an international group of scientists. They pointed out that such a planet could be “trapped” in an area known as the Oort Cloud, marking the limit of the Sun’s gravitational pull.

The results of a new international study were published in the June issue of the scientific journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomy Society. Its authors simulated our solar system as it looked 4.5 billion years ago, during its still unstable beginnings.

Wandering planets

From previous research, it is known that during the formation of planetary systems, such as our solar system, it is possible that one of the planets will “break free” from its gravity and escape into open interstellar space. This was probably the origin of the mysterious space object Oumuamua that flew through our solar system in 2017. However, since a planet can leave its original star, the question has been raised whether it is possible for it to be captured later by the gravitational pull of another star.

Complex computer simulations have shown that this is possible. The greatest chance of capturing such a “nobody’s” planet, however, was found not when it passes close to another star, but when it appears on the edge of its gravitational pull. In the case of the Solar System, the hypothetical Oort Cloud, i.e. a spherical cloud of dust, rocks and asteroids, marking the edge of the dominance of the gravitational interaction of our Sun. Although its existence has not yet been confirmed by observations, the cloud is believed to be very far away – between 2,000 and 200,000 AU from the Sun, or 03 to 3.2 light years away. By comparison, the farthest known planet in our solar system, Neptune, is 30 AU from the sun.

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Solar systemShutterstock

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An alien planet trapped in the solar system

Based on the simulations, the researchers found that during the formation of our solar system, there was a 10 percent chance of one of the planets breaking away from it. At the same time, it has been calculated that there is about a 7% probability that the planet torn off from another star was “captured” by our Sun and trapped by its weak gravitational interaction in the Oort Cloud. As indicated, the simulations involved large, icy celestial bodies from other planetary systems, comparable in size to Jupiter or Uranus.

Based on these simulations, the researchers concluded that there is a seven percent chance that an unknown large planet orbits at the edge of our solar system. Moreover, according to the researchers, if the existence of this planet were confirmed, its origin would most likely be “alien”, meaning that it came from interstellar space. The odds of a planet orbiting in the Oort Cloud that escaped from the sun’s stronger influence have been estimated at only 0.5 percent.

SEE ALSO: A burning object appeared in the Polish sky. Recording

Universe Today, Live Science, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomy Society, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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