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No. 90: Nov-Dec 1993

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A New Class Of Solar System Objects

For decades astronomers have suspected and searched for Planet X, a large body beyond Neptune swinging slowly about the sun and gravitationally perturbing Neptune's orbit. Planet X has never been found, but somewhere out there are some pretty hefty bodies, as described by T. Van Flandern:

"The discovery of a second miniplanet beyond Neptune, 1993 FW, augments the discovery of 1992 QB1 last fall. Both objects are believed to be in the 200-300-km-diameter range, with magnitudes between 2324, distances at discovery between 40-45 AU, and low inclinations.... Although the discoverers of these two objects hailed them as the first representatives of the elusive 'Kuiper belt' of comets, other theoreticians have confirmed that the line of reasoning leading to the suggestion of such a belt is spurious. That fact, combined with the absence of any comet-like characteristics in these two new objects, their relative size as compared with any other known comet, and their unusually red coloration, seem to make them the first-discovered members of a new class of solar system bodies. Since the searches leading to their discovery have examined only 1.5 out of tens of thousands of square degrees of sky wherein such objects might be discovered, it seems a reasonable conjecture that thousands of additional similar objects will ultimately be found. In short, it appears at this early stage that the solar system may have a second asteroid belt beyond Neptune."

(Van Flandern, T.; Meta Research Bulletin, 2:13. June 15, 1933.)

Comment. Did this new class of objects once comprise Planet X? If there are truly thousands of such bodies with diameters of 200-300 kilometers circling out there beyond Neptune, the astronomers will be hard put to account for them, and the astrologers will have to modify their calculations! What's going on here? How could astronomers completely overlook a major component of the solar system? Paradigm blinders?

An entire chapter (AX) is devoted to Planet X in our Catalog: The Sun and Solar System Debris. Ordering information here.

From Science Frontiers #90, NOV-DEC 1993. 1993-2000 William R. Corliss