Sedna, 2012 VP113, And the Lost Orb Called Planet X

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Astronomers,  astrophysicists,  astrobiologists, geologists, and other scientists have long looked for a Super Earth as an answer to perturbations in the orbits of the outer Solar Sytem planets. They have looked for an unknown X planet, hence “Planet X.”

As a result of this search the outer Solar Sytem has been expanding its limits to farther reaches.

Sedna 2012 VP113 and the lost orb Planet X
2012 VP113, Celestia | Rediscovered Astronomy

The following recount demonstrates the search for Planet X has been active all along.


Early Search For Planet X

After the discovery of Uranus by William Herschel in 1781, astronomers suspected the presence of an unkown yet to be discovered planet. Scientists thought that an X planet would be the cause of perturbations to Uranus orbit. In 1821, through math calculations, Alexis Bouvard demonstrated the influence of another planetary body over Uranus.

Hue Storm Uranus, Keck II
Uranus, Keck II

Other astronomers followed up on the work of Bouvard and in 1845 Urbain Le Verrier came to the same conclusion. In the period of 1845 to 1846 both John Couch Adams and Johann Gottfried Galle observed Neptune. Neptune was then credited with the perturbations in the orbit of Uranus.


Sedna, 2012 VP113, And the Lost Orb Called Planet X
Neptune, Hubble Space Telescope

Later on, at the beginning of the XX century, Percival Lowell perceived perturbations in Uranus that were not explained by the presence of Neptune at that time. It was assumed a planet X was the cause of Lowell’s calculations. Then in the following years, after the work of Lowell, Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930.

It was assumed for decades that Pluto was the perturber of Uranus [and Neptune].


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