A mysterious space object going the wrong way, which is found beyond Neptune, has got scientists all puzzled. It has been nicknamed Niku (Chinese for “rebellious”). Niku is a trans-Neptunian object, a dwarf planet that orbits past Neptune.
But there’s something strange about Niku. It does not behave like most dwarf planets we know. It orbits the sun on a tilted orbit by 110 degrees. Not only its orbit is tilted, but Niku orbits differently from all the other planets in the Solar System. The rest of the 9 planets have a “prograde” direction, as they orbit around the sun. Well Niku orbits in a “retrograde” direction, which makes it different and strange compared to the other nine planets.
This is not the first time an object beyond Neptune was discovered with a “wrong way” orbit, but because Niku’s orbit is tilted, this complicates matters a lot.
According to astrophysicist Matthew Holman, it shows how little we know about the Solar System.
The object is 160,000 times fainter than Neptune. This suggests Niku is a dwarf planet, less than 200 kilometres across.
One possible explanation is that the tiny planet is part of a group of objects which move in the same direction.
Another way to look at it is the possibility of a massive planet on a huge orbit around the Solar System, which comes into vision every 10,000 to 20,000 years.
NASA denied the existence of Planet X, which was believed to exist beyond Pluto.
Others say the tilted, backwards orbit happened because of a collision with a larger object.
These are all speculations and scientists still have no idea how come the orbit is tilted and goes backwards.
Scientists admit there’s still a lot going on inside our solar system that we know nothing about. This is why more missions to explore the Solar System and further research is needed.
Jim Green, director of planetary science, believes that the new discovery encourages healthy debate and should be part of the larger scientific process. He believes that if Planet X really exists, NASA is going to find it.
What’s your opinion on this article? Do you think we know enough about our Solar System? Please leave a comment below. Thanks.
Image Source –Eurekalert