Thursday, April 06, 2017

Caltech's Planet 9

Interstellar (2014)

Professor Brand: Hello, Cooper.

Cooper: Professor Brand.

Williams: Explain to me how you found this facility.

Cooper: Kind of an accident. We sort of stumbled upon it. We were on a salvage run -

Williams: You're sitting in the best-kept secret in the world. Nobody stumbles in here. Nobody stumbles out.

Professor Brand: Cooper, please. Cooperate with these people.

Cooper: Look. It's kind of hard to explain. We learned these coordinates from an anomaly.

Doyle: What sort of anomaly?

Cooper: I hesitate to term it supernatural -

Dr. Brand: [ scornful expression ]

Cooper: - but it definitely wasn't scientific.

Williams: You're going to have to be specific, Mr. Cooper. Right now.

Murph: It was gravity.

Dr. Brand: [ smirking expression ]

Doyle: Um, what sort of gravitational anomaly? Where was this?

Cooper: Hey. Now, I'm real happy that you're excited about gravity, bud, but you're not getting any answers from us until I get assurances.

Williams: Assurances?

Cooper: Yeah. Like, that we're getting out of here. And I don't mean in the trunk of some car.

[ group laughter ]

Professor Brand: Don't you know who we are, Coop?

Cooper: No, professor, I don't.

Dr. Brand: You know my father, Professor Brand. We're NASA.

Cooper: NASA?

Professor Brand: NASA. The same NASA you flew for.


Researchers find evidence of ninth planet in solar system

Traci Watson, Special for USA TODAY Published 10:49 a.m. ET Jan. 20, 2016 Updated 10:40 p.m. ET Jan. 20, 2016

The image of our solar system may soon undergo a radical makeover.

Scientists revealed evidence Wednesday of a bizarre new planet five to 10 times more massive than the Earth and at least 200 times farther from the sun. If the new planet is confirmed, it would raise the solar system’s planet tally from eight to nine. It would also verify the presence of a world in the coldest, most remote reaches of the solar system — a world unlike any of the known planets.

“This is the first serious claim for the existence of an additional planet in the solar system,” said planetary scientist Alessandro Morbidelli of France’s Observatory of the Cote d’Azur, who was not involved with the new study. If true, “it would change the portrait of the solar system for everyone.”

Other researchers say the existence of so-called “Planet Nine,” while plausible, still needs to be confirmed. But experts also say the study laying out the case contains the most convincing evidence yet that a giant planet hovers much farther away than ever imagined.

“We tried hard ourselves to prove that we were wrong,” said study co-author Mike Brown of Caltech. “We couldn’t do it, but I hope people are sharpening their pencils right now.”

If Planet Nine is the real deal, it would be one of the most delicious ironies in recent scientific history. Until now, Brown has been best known as the man who killed Pluto. Brown’s discovery a decade ago of an icy body called Eris – roughly the size of Pluto but much farther from the sun – helped goad astronomers into a humiliating demotion of Pluto from planet to “dwarf planet,” a decision that shrank the solar system from nine planets to eight.

"OK, OK, I am now willing to admit: I DO believe that the solar system has nine planets," Brown tweeted Wednesday from his aptly named account — @plutokiller.

OK, OK, I am now willing to admit: I DO believe that the solar system has nine planets.

— Mike Brown (@plutokiller) January 20, 2016

Brown and his Caltech colleague Konstantin Batygin base their argument of Planet Nine's existence on an analysis of a handful of distant worlds orbiting the sun far beyond the orbit of Neptune, the farthest true planet. Six of these small objects have orbits that are, against the odds, all aligned at one end. Their paths are also tilted in the same way compared to the eight bona-fide planets.

To Brown and Batygin, that suggested some large object is secretly exerting its powers over the outer solar system. Further analysis of other small worlds beyond Neptune showed they, too, seemed to be under the influence of a massive planet, the scientists reported in The Astronomical Journal.

Those conclusions may yet unravel, but “right now the best explanation is a giant planet,” said astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution in Washington D.C., whose research helped put Brown and Batygin on the scent of Planet Nine. “It’s still early stages … but it’s a very strong possibility that this planet exists out there.”

In search of irrefutable proof, Brown and Batygin are now searching for Planet Nine with two different telescopes. This hypothesized world is probably very far from Earth at the moment – it needs 10,000 to 20,000 years to make one circuit around the sun – and therefore difficult to see, Brown said. But he thinks Planet Nine is within reach of the world’s most powerful telescopes.

If Planet Nine really exists, it could help scientists understand the birth of the solar system, said Scott Kenyon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"It's a challenge" to understand how a planet would've gotten way out there and survived, he said, so Planet Nine will help researchers winnow their ideas for "the early history of our planetary system."

It's existence would also help make our own solar system a little less weird. None of the planets in our solar system resemble the most common types of planets outside it. But Planet Nine does.

“We are becoming more normal by finding this very strange planet out there,” Brown said. “Just with this one extra planet, the solar system is much more like other planetary systems we’ve been finding in the galaxy.”

From 3/16/1991 ( my first successful major test of my ultraspace matter transportation device as Kerry Wayne Burgess the successful Ph.D. graduate Columbia South Carolina ) To 1/20/2016 is 9076 days

From 11/2/1965 ( my birth date in Antlers Oklahoma USA and my birthdate as the known official United States Marshal Kerry Wayne Burgess and active duty United States Marine Corps officer ) To 9/8/1990 ( premiere US TV series "The New America's Funniest People" ) is 9076 days

From 5/7/1992 ( the first launch of the US space shuttle Endeavour orbiter vehicle mission STS-49 includes me Kerry Wayne Burgess the United States Marine Corps officer and United States STS-49 pilot astronaut ) To 1/20/2016 is 8658 days

From 11/2/1965 ( my birth date in Antlers Oklahoma USA and my birthdate as the known official United States Marshal Kerry Wayne Burgess and active duty United States Marine Corps officer ) To 7/17/1989 ( the first flight of the United States Air Force and Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit bomber aircraft ) is 8658 days

From 10/26/2014 ( premiere US film "Interstellar" ) To 1/20/2016 is 451 days

From 11/2/1965 ( my birth date in Antlers Oklahoma USA and my birthdate as the known official United States Marshal Kerry Wayne Burgess and active duty United States Marine Corps officer ) To 1/27/1967 ( the Apollo 1 fire at Cape Kennedy Florida ) is 451 days

From 10/26/2014 ( premiere US film "Interstellar" ) To 1/20/2016 is 451 days

From 11/2/1965 ( my birth date in Antlers Oklahoma USA and my birthdate as the known official United States Marshal Kerry Wayne Burgess and active duty United States Marine Corps officer ) To 1/27/1967 ( Lyndon Johnson - Remarks at the Signing of the Treaty on Outer Space ) is 451 days

From 10/28/1994 ( premiere US film "Stargate" ) To 1/20/2016 is 7754 days

From 11/2/1965 ( my birth date in Antlers Oklahoma USA and my birthdate as the known official United States Marshal Kerry Wayne Burgess and active duty United States Marine Corps officer ) To 1/25/1987 ( from the official United States Navy documents of Kerry Burgess: Received For Temporary Duty Under Instruction - United States Navy Naval Guided Missiles School ) is 7754 days



Caltech Researchers Find Evidence of a Real Ninth Planet

Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly.

"This would be a real ninth planet," says Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy. "There have only been two true planets discovered since ancient times, and this would be a third. It's a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that's still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting."

Brown notes that the putative ninth planet—at 5,000 times the mass of Pluto—is sufficiently large that there should be no debate about whether it is a true planet. Unlike the class of smaller objects now known as dwarf planets, Planet Nine gravitationally dominates its neighborhood of the solar system. In fact, it dominates a region larger than any of the other known planets—a fact that Brown says makes it "the most planet-y of the planets in the whole solar system."

Batygin and Brown describe their work in the current issue of the Astronomical Journal and show how Planet Nine helps explain a number of mysterious features of the field of icy objects and debris beyond Neptune known as the Kuiper Belt.

"Although we were initially quite skeptical that this planet could exist, as we continued to investigate its orbit and what it would mean for the outer solar system, we become increasingly convinced that it is out there," says Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science. "For the first time in over 150 years, there is solid evidence that the solar system's planetary census is incomplete."

The road to the theoretical discovery was not straightforward. In 2014, a former postdoc of Brown's, Chad Trujillo, and his colleague Scott Sheppard published a paper noting that 13 of the most distant objects in the Kuiper Belt are similar with respect to an obscure orbital feature. To explain that similarity, they suggested the possible presence of a small planet. Brown thought the planet solution was unlikely, but his interest was piqued.

He took the problem down the hall to Batygin, and the two started what became a year-and-a-half-long collaboration to investigate the distant objects. As an observer and a theorist, respectively, the researchers approached the work from very different perspectives—Brown as someone who looks at the sky and tries to anchor everything in the context of what can be seen, and Batygin as someone who puts himself within the context of dynamics, considering how things might work from a physics standpoint. Those differences allowed the researchers to challenge each other's ideas and to consider new possibilities. "I would bring in some of these observational aspects; he would come back with arguments from theory, and we would push each other. I don't think the discovery would have happened without that back and forth," says Brown. " It was perhaps the most fun year of working on a problem in the solar system that I've ever had."

Fairly quickly Batygin and Brown realized that the six most distant objects from Trujillo and Sheppard's original collection all follow elliptical orbits that point in the same direction in physical space. That is particularly surprising because the outermost points of their orbits move around the solar system, and they travel at different rates.

"It's almost like having six hands on a clock all moving at different rates, and when you happen to look up, they're all in exactly the same place," says Brown. The odds of having that happen are something like 1 in 100, he says. But on top of that, the orbits of the six objects are also all tilted in the same way—pointing about 30 degrees downward in the same direction relative to the plane of the eight known planets. The probability of that happening is about 0.007 percent. "Basically it shouldn't happen randomly," Brown says. "So we thought something else must be shaping these orbits."

The first possibility they investigated was that perhaps there are enough distant Kuiper Belt objects—some of which have not yet been discovered—to exert the gravity needed to keep that subpopulation clustered together. The researchers quickly ruled this out when it turned out that such a scenario would require the Kuiper Belt to have about 100 times the mass it has today.

That left them with the idea of a planet. Their first instinct was to run simulations involving a planet in a distant orbit that encircled the orbits of the six Kuiper Belt objects, acting like a giant lasso to wrangle them into their alignment. Batygin says that almost works but does not provide the observed eccentricities precisely. "Close, but no cigar," he says.

Then, effectively by accident, Batygin and Brown noticed that if they ran their simulations with a massive planet in an anti-aligned orbit—an orbit in which the planet's closest approach to the sun, or perihelion, is 180 degrees across from the perihelion of all the other objects and known planets—the distant Kuiper Belt objects in the simulation assumed the alignment that is actually observed.

"Your natural response is 'This orbital geometry can't be right. This can't be stable over the long term because, after all, this would cause the planet and these objects to meet and eventually collide,'" says Batygin. But through a mechanism known as mean-motion resonance, the anti-aligned orbit of the ninth planet actually prevents the Kuiper Belt objects from colliding with it and keeps them aligned. As orbiting objects approach each other they exchange energy. So, for example, for every four orbits Planet Nine makes, a distant Kuiper Belt object might complete nine orbits. They never collide. Instead, like a parent maintaining the arc of a child on a swing with periodic pushes, Planet Nine nudges the orbits of distant Kuiper Belt objects such that their configuration with relation to the planet is preserved.

"Still, I was very skeptical," says Batygin. "I had never seen anything like this in celestial mechanics."

But little by little, as the researchers investigated additional features and consequences of the model, they became persuaded. "A good theory should not only explain things that you set out to explain. It should hopefully explain things that you didn't set out to explain and make predictions that are testable," says Batygin.

And indeed Planet Nine's existence helps explain more than just the alignment of the distant Kuiper Belt objects. It also provides an explanation for the mysterious orbits that two of them trace. The first of those objects, dubbed Sedna, was discovered by Brown in 2003. Unlike standard-variety Kuiper Belt objects, which get gravitationally "kicked out" by Neptune and then return back to it, Sedna never gets very close to Neptune. A second object like Sedna, known as 2012 VP113, was announced by Trujillo and Sheppard in 2014. Batygin and Brown found that the presence of Planet Nine in its proposed orbit naturally produces Sedna-like objects by taking a standard Kuiper Belt object and slowly pulling it away into an orbit less connected to Neptune.

But the real kicker for the researchers was the fact that their simulations also predicted that there would be objects in the Kuiper Belt on orbits inclined perpendicularly to the plane of the planets. Batygin kept finding evidence for these in his simulations and took them to Brown. "Suddenly I realized there are objects like that," recalls Brown. In the last three years, observers have identified four objects tracing orbits roughly along one perpendicular line from Neptune and one object along another. "We plotted up the positions of those objects and their orbits, and they matched the simulations exactly," says Brown. "When we found that, my jaw sort of hit the floor."

"When the simulation aligned the distant Kuiper Belt objects and created objects like Sedna, we thought this is kind of awesome—you kill two birds with one stone," says Batygin. "But with the existence of the planet also explaining these perpendicular orbits, not only do you kill two birds, you also take down a bird that you didn't realize was sitting in a nearby tree."

Where did Planet Nine come from and how did it end up in the outer solar system? Scientists have long believed that the early solar system began with four planetary cores that went on to grab all of the gas around them, forming the four gas planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Over time, collisions and ejections shaped them and moved them out to their present locations. "But there is no reason that there could not have been five cores, rather than four," says Brown. Planet Nine could represent that fifth core, and if it got too close to Jupiter or Saturn, it could have been ejected into its distant, eccentric orbit.

Batygin and Brown continue to refine their simulations and learn more about the planet's orbit and its influence on the distant solar system. Meanwhile, Brown and other colleagues have begun searching the skies for Planet Nine. Only the planet's rough orbit is known, not the precise location of the planet on that elliptical path. If the planet happens to be close to its perihelion, Brown says, astronomers should be able to spot it in images captured by previous surveys. If it is in the most distant part of its orbit, the world's largest telescopes—such as the twin 10-meter telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Subaru Telescope, all on Mauna Kea in Hawaii—will be needed to see it. If, however, Planet Nine is now located anywhere in between, many telescopes have a shot at finding it.

"I would love to find it," says Brown. "But I'd also be perfectly happy if someone else found it. That is why we're publishing this paper. We hope that other people are going to get inspired and start searching."

In terms of understanding more about the solar system's context in the rest of the universe, Batygin says that in a couple of ways, this ninth planet that seems like such an oddball to us would actually make our solar system more similar to the other planetary systems that astronomers are finding around other stars. First, most of the planets around other sunlike stars have no single orbital range—that is, some orbit extremely close to their host stars while others follow exceptionally distant orbits. Second, the most common planets around other stars range between 1 and 10 Earth-masses.

"One of the most startling discoveries about other planetary systems has been that the most common type of planet out there has a mass between that of Earth and that of Neptune," says Batygin. "Until now, we've thought that the solar system was lacking in this most common type of planet. Maybe we're more normal after all."

Brown, well known for the significant role he played in the demotion of Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet adds, "All those people who are mad that Pluto is no longer a planet can be thrilled to know that there is a real planet out there still to be found," he says. "Now we can go and find this planet and make the solar system have nine planets once again."

The paper is titled "Evidence for a Distant Giant Planet in the Solar System."


The New America's Funniest People (TV Series)

Pilot (1990)

Release Info

USA 8 September 1990


The New America's Funniest People: Season 1, Episode 1

Pilot (8 Sep. 1990)

"America's Funniest People" Pilot (original title)

TV Episode

Release Date: 8 September 1990 (USA)


Interstellar (2014)


TARS: I have a cue light I can use to show you when I'm joking, if you like.

Cooper: That might help.

TARS: Yeah, you can use it to find your way back to the ship after I blow you out the airlock.

[cue light flashes]


Interstellar (2014)


Cooper: Okay. Now you need to tell me what your plan is to save the world.

Dr. Brand: We're not meant to save the world. We're meant to leave it.

Cooper: [looks up, sees space ships] Rangers.

Dr. Brand: The last components of our one versatile ship in orbit, the Endurance. Our final expedition.

Cooper: You sent people out there looking for a new home?

Dr. Brand: The Lazarus missions.

Cooper: That sounds cheerful.

Dr. Brand: Lazarus came back from the dead.

Cooper: Sure, but he had to die in the first place. There's not a planet in our solar system that can sustain life and the nearest star is over a thousand years away, I mean, that doesn't even qualify as futile. Where'd you send them?

Dr. Brand: Cooper, I can't tell you any more, unless you agree to pilot this craft. You're the best pilot we ever had.

Cooper: And I barely left the stratosphere.

Dr. Brand: This team never left the simulator. We need a pilot, and this is the mission that you were trained for.

Cooper: What, without even knowing it? An hour ago, you didn't even know I was alive and you were going anyway.

Dr. Brand: We had no choice. But something sent you here. They chose you.

Cooper: Well who's "they"?

[Dr. Brand does not answer]


Interstellar (2014)


Romilly: Of all these anomalies, the most significant is this: out near Saturn, a disturbance of space-time.

Cooper: It's a wormhole?

Romilly: Appeared 48 years ago.

Cooper: And, it leads where?

Dr. Brand: Another galaxy.

Cooper: A wormhole's not a naturally occurring phenomenon...

Brand: Someone placed it there.

Cooper: "They."


Interstellar (2014)


Brand: And whoever they are, they appear to be looking out for us. That wormhole, lets us travel to other stars. Came along right as we needed it.

Doyle: They've put potentially habitable worlds right within our reach. Twelve, in fact, from our initial probes.

Cooper: You send probes into that?

Doyle: Mm-hm.

Dr. Brand: We sent *people* into it. Ten years ago.

Cooper: The Lazarus missions.

Dr. Brand: Twelve possible worlds, twelve Ranger launches, carrying the bravest humans ever to live. Led by the remarkable Dr. Mann.

Doyle: Each person's landing pod had enough life support for two years, but they could use hibernation to stretch that, making observations on organics over a decade or more. Their mission was to assess their world, and if it showed potential, then they could send out a signal, bed down for the long nap, wait to be rescued.

Cooper: And what if the world didn't show promise?

Doyle: Hence the bravery.

- posted by H.V.O.M - Kerry Wayne Burgess 02:30 AM Pacific Time Spokane Valley Washington USA Thursday 06 April 2017