Astronomers have discovered on the edge of our solar system a very mysterious object, named Niku, that behaves inexplicable.
It is a Trans-Neptunian object, describes researchers in their paper. Meaning that the object is still past the orbit of Neptune. The discovery of a Trans-Neptunian object is not very special: researchers discover regularly new objects on the edge of our solar system. But this object, that has been nicknamed ‘Niku’, is special.
To understand why we should go back to the beginning. The creation of our solar system. Around the sun was a substance disk. Dust particles in that disk clumped together and formed planets. All of the planets were located in that substance disk and are turning in the same orbital plane around the sun. When you look aside of our solar system, you see that all planets are neatly ordered. In addition they also run all in the same direction.
Niku is special for two reasons. Firstly this Trans-Neptunian object does not move in the orbital plane like most of the other objects in our solar system. Indeed, the Niku orbital plane is almost diametrically opposed to the ‘usual’ orbital plane. In addition, Niku is also further retrograde. That means that Niku moves in the opposite direction relative to most of the other objects in the solar system.
How can that be explained? Niku’s is probably brought off course by another celestial body. But which celestial body? The researchers have no idea. In their paper they option out a number of options (including Planet X or an undiscovered dwarf planet). “The edge of the solar system has just become a bit calmer,” concludes researcher Michele banister.
Planetary astronomer Michele Bannister tweeted “I hope everyone has buckled their seatbelts because the outer solar system just got a lot weirder”. Referring to the discovery of a Trans-Neptunian Object (TNO), an object that is outside the orbit of Neptune. It is located above the plane of the solar system and moves further up. That makes it a strange object.