Mysterious Celestial Objects! #SpaceSaturday

It sometimes seems as if we can learn anything at any time. Want to know what a quasar is? Google it. Curious about the troposphere? Google it. Mysterious objects that have upended foundational cosmological theories? Google that pronto! The truth is, we know very little. Somewhere between Wikipedia and “doing your own research” we’ve come to radically overestimate what we can and can’t know. So let’s get mysterious with some celestial unknowns from the BBC’s Science Focus:

Could an enormous world be lurking in our midst? Astronomers are increasingly certain that there is a ninth planet orbiting the Sun, far out beyond Neptune – a so-called ‘Planet Nine’. It wouldn’t be the first time the roll call of the Sun’s orbiting worlds has been tweaked. When Ceres, the largest asteroid in the Solar System, was discovered in 1801, it was initially classified as a planet, but later downgraded. Pluto, too, was admitted to the planet club upon its discovery in 1930, only to be asked to leave in 2006 and relegated to dwarf planet status.

The first clues that there is yet another member of the Sun’s planetary fraternity came in 2014 when American astronomer Dr Scott Sheppard found a small dwarf planet candidate called 2012 VP113, orbiting an average of 250 times further from the Sun than the Earth. Its elongated orbit, which is significantly tilted relative to that of the planets, immediately stood out. “Nothing is currently known in the Solar System that could create 2012 VP113’s orbit,” says Sheppard.

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