- An invisible object appears to interact with other objects along the edge of our solar system, and researchers are unsure of what it is.
- “New planet” theories have been proposed, but others believe it could be a tiny black hole.
- Researchers plan to scan the sky for evidence of the black hole using a new investigation.
The still elusive “Planet Nine” hunt has taken scientists on very strange roads. The idea that a planet exists in the outer reaches of our solar system and cannot be easily seen has been floating around for some time, and observations of other objects in the region suggest that there is something great that generates a gravitational pull. The simplest explanation would be a planet, but it is not the only possibility.
Now scientists at Harvard University in partnership with the Black Hole Initiative want to test the theory that the object that appears to be hiding on the edge of our system is actually a black hole. Yes, you read that right; there may be a black hole just hiding in our cosmic backyard.
The researchers plan to search for this so-called “primordial” black hole using data from the Legacy Survey of Space Time, or LSST mission. Researchers say they can use the data to search for evidence of accretion surges, which are created when objects get too close to a black hole.
“In the vicinity of a black hole, small bodies approaching it will melt as a result of the warming of the background gas build-up from the interstellar medium on the black hole,” said Amir Siraj of Harvard in a communicated.
“Once they have melted, the small bodies are subject to tidal disturbances through the black hole, followed by accretion of the body disturbed by the tides through the black hole. Dr. Avi Loeb, co-author of the research, explains. “Because black holes are inherently dark, the radiation that matter emits on its way to the mouth of the black hole is our only way to illuminate this dark environment. ”
The catch here is that the LSST has not yet started. Scientists believe the investigation will be able to detect such flares, but they will not know for sure until the material begins to sweep the sky twice a week, as currently planned. The black hole itself, if it exists, would be an incredibly fascinating object for future study.
A “planet-mass” black hole could exist with a mass between five and ten times that of our own planet. Being a black hole, the object would be much, much smaller than Earth, and researchers suggest it could be as small as a grapefruit. Even at this size, it would have enough gravitational force to produce the types of motion in neighboring objects that have been observed around the edges of our system.