Obviously, with such an enormous distance separating Earth and the hypothetical planet, it’s bound to be very difficult to spot “Fatty.”
But scientists don’t give up hope: they’re looking for the planet using infrared equipment.
If Planet Nine does exist, it’s supposed to leak infrared radiation. But so far, all that scientists have detected is weird gravitational effects on the outskirts of the Solar System.
But then, what if Planet Nine isn’t a planet at all? The idea, which first appeared in 2019, suggests that the object that has created all this hullabaloo, might be… a black hole! Wait, wait, wait.
Does it mean it’s going to swallow us and all the Solar System? Astronomers have divided all black holes into three groups: supermassive black holes, intermediate-mass black holes, and stellar-mass black holes.
The supermassive black hole closest to Earth is Sagitarrius A*, perched almost in the center of our home Milky Way galaxy.
Such supermassive black holes are gargantuan, they can control the way stars form and, being awake and feeding, they can be the brightest objects in space.
But even small black holes are still way bigger (and, honestly, even more impressive) than our Sun. Around black holes, there are swirling discs of material, and the whole picture resembles water going down a drain.
Black holes generate so much radiation that even astronomers on Earth manage to detect it with their telescopes.
But apart from these impressive giants and smaller holes, there might be one more type of black holes – primordial.
The problem with them is that scientists have never got any real proof of their existence – they just suppose that there are primordial black holes somewhere out there.
These holes are insanely old and quite tiny (of course, by black hole standards).
Astronomers believe that they appeared some milliseconds after the Big Bang and might have witnessed the whole history of the Universe.
At that time, not even stars or galaxies were born yet. By now, the smallest primordial black holes are likely to have evaporated away, but the bigger ones can still be scattered around the Universe.
As for how primordial black holes appeared in the first place, in the very beginning, space wasn’t the same. In some places, it was hotter, in others – cooler, and some regions were denser.
It sounds like some of the people I hang out with. Scientists suppose that these dense areas could collapse into primordial black holes.
But the most interesting thing is that these holes are likely to be so small exactly because they popped up right after the Big Bang! The longer it took them to appear, the larger they were.
The difference could vary from the mass thousand times greater than that of the Sun to the weight of a Jelly Bean. But let’s return to Planet Nine – or should I call it Primordial Black Hole Nine now?
Once again, astronomers haven’t seen the planet with their own eyes. The only thing that proves its existence is how it influences the behavior of other space bodies.
But let’s not forget that black holes are also notorious for their gravitational pull! So, why don’t we suppose that the thing hiding on the outskirts of the Solar System isn’t a mysterious, unidentified planet, but a mini black hole?
But even if this guess is correct, you have nothing to worry about: Earth isn’t in danger.
Primordial black holes are too small and weak to cause any serious harm to our planetary system.
But at the same time, they can mess with objects careless enough to get too close. (slurp – oops!) But what made astronomers come up with the idea of primordial black holes at all?
For one thing, it was an inexplicable brightening of stars, as if some massive but almost transparent object was passing in front of them.
What’s more, these stars not only started to shine brighter for a brief moment, but they also seemed curved, as if you were looking at them through a giant magnifying glass!
Besides, when scientists created a computer model of a primordial black hole 5 to 10 times as heavy as Earth and with an orbit very distant from the Sun, they got really interesting results.
The pattern of this model resembled the events happening in the region of Kuiper belt a bit too much for it to be a coincidence!
And finally, a primordial black hole would explain why hypothetical Planet Nine can’t be seen and doesn’t produce infrared radiation.
But one of the main reasons why astronomers would be ecstatic should Planet Nine turn out to be a primordial black hole is the mystery of dark matter!
You might know that scientists are still in the dark (yes, the pun was intended) about what exactly dark matter is, which makes up to 30% of the Universe.
But guess what? Primordial black holes could be the very dark matter astronomers are searching for! Or at least, a kind of dark matter named MACHOs (which stands for massive compact halo objects).
Well, it makes me believe that with astronomers being so motivated, we’ll soon get to know the real nature of Planet Nine slashes Primordial Black Hole! Or maybe — it’s only a half-mass black hole… can’t wait to find out!