Space: Science and technology

“It’s huge”

About the discovery of the ninth planet of the Solar system two astronomers from the California Institute of technology in Pasadena became known on January 20. One of them — the native of Russia Konstantin Batygin — spoke about the search for Planet X, the difficulties with the title the new heavenly bodies and unsolved mysteries of the Solar system.

What is an open planet?

Konstantin Batygin . She falls into the category of dwarf planets. This celestial body is quite massive. Our model gives a mass of about ten earth, this planet is just a giant. Now it is defined as a celestial object whose gravitational field is dominant in that part of the Solar system.

In General, there is not even a question: it’s a planet or not. We know about it, because its gravity affects the orbit of the farthest objects in the Kuiper belt. The very mathematical modeling relies on the fact that this planet has enough mass for gravity to dominate in the Solar system.

And its physical properties?

Calculations, unfortunately, give us the weight and General characteristics. We can only assume that it is similar in chemical composition to Uranus or Neptune. More precisely, we will say something, when the planet will send the machine like New Horizons. Although fly far, and will have to wait a very long time.

Where did planet X?

We believe that it sformirovalis first three million years of the Solar system, about 4.5 billion years ago, roughly the same material that Uranus and Neptune. Yet the Solar system was enveloped in a gas cloud, this planet was gravitationally scattered on a longer orbit.

Whether you were guided by the observations of Chadwick Trujillo and Scott Sheppard TRANS-Neptunian object 2012 VP113 in 2004?

We relied on their work. What they find is called the argument of perihelion of the orbits of many in the Kuiper belt. It turns out that this is only part of the story. The reality is a lot easier and fundamentally: the further the orbit in the Kuiper belt roughly looking in the same direction. Physical orbits are almost identical. And it is this fundamental point has led to the fact that we were able to calculate the orbit of “Planet 9”.

How quickly do you hope to discover a planet using Subaru telescope? Your colleagues, such as Professor Hal Levison, can not wait for direct observation.

In principle, the results from one night of observations we obtained fairly quickly. The problem is, what nights you need a lot: it is necessary to examine a large section of the sky. So I think if we integrate, we have to spend two or three years to find a planet that we predicted.

This planet can have satellites?

We believe that, Yes. My colleagues and I agree that there is no reason that it interfered. Is it possible to see them in the telescope? Probably. But it’s hard…

Was pondering how to name a new planet?

Mike brown (Mike Brown, co-author of Constantine batygina — approx. ) believe that it is better to trust in the world community. It’s not us two. Again we have not thought: we have a theoretical model, but the planet was not found astronomically.

Can the Solar system be detected other planets?

In principle, Yes. There is nothing that contradicts such a possibility. But at the moment we do not have any information indicating that, in addition to the ninth planet, is something else.

When observational astronomy will put an end to this story?

Good question. By the mid-twentieth century it seemed that observational astronomy has completed its work in the Solar system. It turned out that it is not.

In principle, the Solar system is huge, the gravitational field of the Sun is dominated by very far: dominant ends somewhere after a hundred thousand astronomical units, and we see small objects in the Kuiper belt at a maximum distance of eighty astronomical units. There is still a huge unknown space.

On the Ground the construction of three major telescopes: the Giant Magellan telescope (GMT), thirty meters telescope (TMT) and European extremely large telescope (E-ELT). They will be useful in such studies?

These projects, of course, important. However, to search for planets like ours, and most likely fit the Subaru telescope type camera which is made to cover most of the sky. The same TMT will be good for characterization and bad for search.

Suddenly, the discovery of the ninth planet is not confirmed?

The most dramatic precedent — the discovery of Neptune in 1846 the urban Verrier (Urbain Le Verrier), which used a mathematical model similar to those that we have today. But our model is much more detailed and complex: it uses supercomputers.

And the calculations Verrier was confirmed in one night of observations.

Do you maintain contacts with Russian colleagues?

I lived in Russia until 1994, then moved with his family to Sweden, and then in the United States. I am basically a theorist, and sometimes I communicate with colleagues from Russia and the Russians operating in the United States and other countries.

Russian media I don’t read because not enough time. Try to deal exclusively with science. I can say that theoretical science in Russia remains strong: there are many good scientists. To mind comes the story of Michael Lidova, who in the 1950-ies calculated the effect which is now called “resonance Lidova-Kozai”. People haven’t realized how important this effect is. Of leads for tens of years ahead of mankind, and scientists in Russia still there.

How long have you worked on the article about planet X, which appeared in The Astronomical Journal?

We undertook this task somewhere a year and a half ago, and wrote an article in November, having finished it after a night on the telescope.

How quickly managed to pass peer review?

Fast enough. That is, after we filed an article in the journal, two months passed, which is very little for such things.

The publication of an article about the discovery of a planet in The Astronomical Journal is a fundamentally?

We decided not to go to Nature or Science. We wanted to write about everything in detail, and format of these journals does not allow this.

Do you think that influential researchers like Stephen Hawking is forced out of the media other scientists?

Honestly, the last article by Stephen Hawking I read exclusively peripherally. Sure, she’s important. Problems are everywhere, but good scientific paper will always notice who wrote it.

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