Two faraway objects may once have made up a binary asteroid in our solar system before being separated and pushed into their current orbits by the mysterious Planet Nine millions of years ago.
This is the conclusion of a new study, which conducted the first spectroscopic observations of asteroids 2004 VN112 and 2013 RF98 – a pair with nearly identical orbits.
The investigation revealed that these asteroids may have a common origin, and suggests they were influenced by an encounter with a much more massive object, adding support to the existence of the hypothetical planet on the edge of our solar system.
In the study, researchers led by the Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and Complutense University of Madrid examined distant objects known as ETNOs: the ‘extreme trans Neptunian objects.’
These orbit the Sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune, and to date, a total of 21 have been identified.
Still, much about these objects remains a mystery.
Recent studies have suggested that their nature could be better explained by the presence of one or more planets several times more massive than Earth orbiting the sun at distances of hundreds of astronomical units (AU) – like the hypothetical Planet Nine, proposed in 2016.
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