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June 09, 2017: Planet X to be Discovered This Fall? Observational and Dynamical Constraints

Posted on Mar 31, 2017 in Seminars

Chad Trujillo (Northern Arizona University)

Talk Title: Planet X to be Discovered This Fall? Observational and Dynamical Constraints

Abstract: An undiscovered ~10 Earth mass planet in our solar system has been hypothesized to explain the orbital characteristics of about a dozen of the most distant Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and Inner Oort Cloud Objects (IOCs). I’ll present the observational evidence for the planet and explain why the evidence is unlikely to be due to observational bias. I’ve used the known KBOs and IOCs as an input for over two thousand dynamical simulations run on the Northern Arizona University High Performance Computing Cluster. These simulations suggest a probable search area for the planet of just a few hundred square degrees, about the apparent size of your outstretched hand against the sky. This fall, we should be able to confirm or rule out the hypothesized planet using Hyper Suprime-Cam on the Subaru 8 meter telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii and the Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco 4 meter telescope in Chile. Regardless of its discovery, additional distant KBOs and IOCs will be found and will help constrain future predictions.