- An invisible object appears to be interacting with other objects on the edge of our solar system, and researchers are unsure of what it is.
- Theories of “Planet Nine” have been suggested, but others believe it could be a tiny black hole.
- The researchers plan to use a new survey to search the sky for evidence of the black hole.
The hunt for the always elusive “Planet Nine” has led scientists in very strange ways. The idea that a planet exists in the outer areas of our solar system and is not easy to see has been floating around for some time, and observations of other objects in the area suggest that something large creates an attraction. The simplest explanation would be a planet, but it is not the only way.
Now scientists at Harvard University, in collaboration with the Black Hole Initiative, want to test the theory that the object that appears to lurk at the edge of our system is actually a black hole. Yes, you read that correctly; There may be a black hole lurking in our cosmic backyard.
The researchers plan to search for this so-called “original” black hole using data from the Legacy Survey of Space Time (LSST mission). The researchers say they can use the data to look for evidence of accretion flares that arise when objects get too close to a black hole.
“Near a black hole, small bodies that approach it melt as a result of gas heating from the interstellar medium onto the black hole,”
“As soon as they melt, the small bodies are exposed to a tidal disturbance through the black hole, followed by an accretion of the tidal body onto the black hole.” Dr. Avi Loeb, who co-authored the research, explains. “Since 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 is that the LSST has not yet started. Scientists believe the survey will be able to detect such flares, but they won’t know for sure until the hardware starts scanning the sky twice a week, as is currently planned. The black hole itself, if it existed, would be an incredibly fascinating object for future studies.
A black hole with “planetary mass” could exist with a mass that is five to ten times larger than that of our own planet. Since it is a black hole, the object would be much, much smaller than the Earth, and the researchers suspect that it could be as small as a grapefruit. Even with this size, it would have enough gravitational force to generate the types of movements in nearby objects that were observed at the edges of our system.