No. 136: JUL-AUG 2001
Often in past years, whenever astronomers detected cometary orbits gone awry, they invoked Planet X; that is, some undiscovered massive body plying the outer reaches of the solar system. Indeed, there have been several intense and unsuccessful searches for Planet X over the years. (See Chapter AX in The Sun and Solar System Debris.)
History seems to be repeating itself with 2000 CR105. Astronomer B. Gladman proposes that 2000 CR105 was forced into its present eccentric orbit by an encounter with a Mars-size Planet X that now orbits the sun at a distance about 15 times that of Neptune. From the standpoint of celestial mechanics, this perturbation of 2000 CR105's orbit is certainly within the realm of possibility. But two associated problems worry astronomers:
(1) The accepted theory for the formation of the solar system does not countenance the formation of planets the size of Mars so far away from the sun; and
(2) If this newly postulated Planet X truly exists, why has it not ejected more 2000 CR105s from the well-populated Kuiper Belt over the billions of years Planet X has been perturbing the Belt ?
(Schilling, Govert; "Comet's Course Hints at Mystery Planet," Science, 292: 33, 2001.)
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