Two giant planets may cruise unseen beyond Pluto
When potential dwarf planet 2012 VP113 was discovered in March, it joined a handful of unusual rocky objects known to reside beyond the orbit of Pluto. These small objects have curiously aligned orbits, which hints that an unseen planet even further out is influencing their behaviour. Scientists calculated that this world would be about 10 times the mass of Earth and would orbit at roughly 250 times Earth's distance from the sun.
Now Carlos and Raul de la Fuente Marcos at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain have taken another look at these distant bodies. As well as confirming their bizarre orbital alignment, the pair found additional puzzling patterns. Small groups of the objects have very similar orbital paths. Because they are not massive enough to be tugging on each other, the researchers think the objects are being "shepherded" by a larger object in a pattern known as orbital resonance.
For instance, we know that Neptune and Pluto are in orbital resonance – for every two orbits Pluto makes around the sun, Neptune makes three.
Sources and more information:
Are two giant planets lurking beyond Pluto? Unusual orbits spotted in the outer solar system hint at the presence of large worlds The aligned orbits of rocky bodies around Pluto hints at an unseen planet Spanish scientists claim this world would be 10 times the mass of Earth They believe this planet is moving in resonance with a much larger...
( via newscientist.com )