Giant planets may be hiding inside the Oort cloud

Worlds ejected from the center of the solar system billions of years ago may be “lost” in the far reaches of the solar system. European and American planetary scientists have concluded that one or more giant planets may exist inside the Oort cloud, the farthest part of the solar system. They are located 10-100 times farther from the Sun than “planet X”, the hypothetical ninth world of our planetary system.

The Oort Cloud is a scattered cluster of matter that is about 150-1,500 times farther from the Sun than the Earth. Inside the cloud there are a huge number of comets and other icy celestial bodies, which were in the backyard of the solar system in the early stages of its evolution. In recent years, astronomers have begun actively studying the Oort cloud in search of the mysterious “Planet X,” hints of whose existence were discovered in the middle of the last decade.

A group of European and American planetary scientists led by Bordeaux University researcher Sean Raymond have concluded that very large planets may be hiding inside the Oort cloud. By studying the behavior of objects inside the cloud during the early stages of the evolution of our planetary system, they hypothesized that the solar system got rid of a large number of protoplanets and full planets. Presumably, they were ejected into outer space as a result of gravitational interactions with other objects. Scientists wondered if some of these worlds could have been “trapped” inside the Oort cloud.

The calculations showed that up to 10% of the ejected planets could have been captured by the Oort cloud, where these worlds could have entered a stable orbit or existed in a semi-stable state for several billion years. This suggests that in the solar system, as well as in hundreds of thousands of other planetary systems, there are one or more giant planets hidden inside the Oort cloud or its counterparts.

Scientists have also noted that planets formed inside the chaotically arranged Oort cloud or trapped inside it from the outside can survive inside it for billions of years. If such a planet exists within the solar system, it is tens or hundreds of times distant from the hypothetical “Planet X”.

Not only are there eight “real” planets, Pluto, and several dozen dwarf worlds present in the solar system, but also countless asteroids and comets. The vast majority of the asteroids known to science are located in the inner regions of the solar system, in the so-called main asteroid belt, while comets are concentrated in the Oort cloud at the outskirts of the solar system.

Research suggests that not only comets and icy celestial bodies, but also giant planets may be located inside the Oort cloud. This opens up new possibilities for studying the solar system and its evolution, as well as for finding life on other planets.

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