Is there a huge, unseen planet lurking at the edge of our solar system?
A team of astronomers from Sweden and Mexico claim to have discovered a previously unseen, massive object at our solar system’s edge.
Many other astronomers are sceptical of the claim, science site Ars Technica reports.
In two pre-print publications on Arxiv, the scientists say that they saw ‘a new blackbody point source’ which appears to be moving in conjunction with the Alpha Centauri star system, using observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).
The researchers write, ‘Simple arguments convince us that this object cannot be an ordinary star.
‘We argue that the object is most likely part of the solar system, in prograde motion, albeit at a distance too far to be detectable at other wavelengths.’
The object - which one of the teams named ‘Gna’ - could be a Super Earth, at a distance of about 300 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun, six times further out than Pluto.
Other explanations include a brown dwarf, 20,000 AU from the Sun.
Other scientists are highly sceptical of the find - and the publications have not been ‘peer reviewed’ by other scientists.
Mike Brown, at Caltech, was sceptical of the claims, saying, ‘Fun fact: if it is true that ALMA accidentally discovered a massive outer solar system object in its tiny tiny tiny field of view that would suggest that there are something like 200,000 Earth sized planets in the outer solar system. Which, um, no. Even better: I just realized that this many Earth-sized planets existing would destabilize the entire solar system and we would all die.’