Friday, July 22, 2016

The Inclination of the Gas Giants in the Solar System Constrains Planet Nine

The inclination of the planetary system relative to the solar equator may be explained by the presence of Planet 9


Gomes et al


We evaluate the effects of a distant planet, commonly known as planet 9, on the dynamics of the giant planets of the Solar System. We find that, given the large distance of planet 9, the dynamics of the inner giant planets can be decomposed into a classic Lagrange-Laplace dynamics relative to their own invariant plane (the plane orthogonal to their total angular momentum vector) and a slow precession of said plane relative to the total angular momentum vector of the Solar System, including planet 9. Under some specific configurations for planet 9, this precession can explain the current tilt of approximately 6 degrees between the invariant plane of the giant planets and the solar equator. An analytical model is developed to map the evolution of the inclination of the inner giant planets' invariant plane as a function of the planet 9's mass, inclination, eccentricity and semimajor axis, and some numerical simulations of the equations of motion of the giant planets and planet 9 are performed to validate our analytical approach. The longitude of the ascending node of planet 9 is found to be linked to the longitude of the ascending node of the giant planets' invariant plane, which also constrain the longitude of the node of planet 9 on the ecliptic. Some of the planet 9 configurations that allow explaining the current solar tilt are compatible with those proposed to explain the orbital confinement of the most distant Kuiper belt objects. Thus, this work on the one hand gives an elegant explanation for the current tilt between the invariant plane of the inner giant planets and the solar equator and, on the other hand, adds new constraints to the orbital elements of planet 9.

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