Medieval astronomy records could help in search for Planet Nine

Scientists believe medieval records could be the key to uncovering Planet Nine.
By Joseph Scalise | May 07, 2018
Researchers from Queen's University Belfast believe that medieval scrolls and tapestries could shed light on the mysterious "Planet Nine."

For years, astronomers have hypothesized that a ninth planet -- likely an icy giant -- sits on the far edges of our solar system. The theoretical world, dubbed Planet Nine, is a well-known idea. If it existsit would be roughly 10 times the mass of Earth and orbit 20 times further away from the sun than Neptune.

While there is no concrete proof of the world, researchers believe it is real due to a range of gravitational forces in the Kuiper Belt.However, there is little evidence to support its existence.

Even so, the team behind the new projectbelieves that medieval records documenting the passage of comets through the heavens recorded may give insight into whether or not the planet exists.

"We have a wealth of historical records of comets in Old English, Old Irish, Latin and Russian which have been overlooked for a long time," explained project leader Marilina Cesario, a researcher at Queen's University, Belfast, according to Live Science. "Early medieval people were fascinated by the heavens, as much as we are today."

Such records are key because they include specific dates and times that astronomers can track back through time. That could then allow them to build a timeline of what specific events or sightings occurred.

 

In addition, the scrollscould provide more information on comet orbits, which scientists could use to see what would have been visible during the Middle Ages. From there, researchers could run two types of computer simulations -- ones that include Planet Nine and ones that do not -- and then see which ones match up the best.

There is a long way to go in the search for Planet Nine, but this new research may be one of the bigger breakthroughs in a while. It is simply a matter of collecting as much data as possible and then carefully combing through it one data point at a time.

"This research project renegotiates the meaning and importance of medieval science and demonstrates how medieval records of comets can help test the theory of the existence of the elusive Planet Nine," added Cesario, according to Inquisitr.

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