There is currently an object past the orbit of Neptune that is leaving everybody speechless. The unidentified object has been given the name ‘Niku’, which translates from Chinese as ‘rebel’, and this is for one good reason - whilst nearly everything in the solar system orbits the sun in one direction, Niku is going the opposite way! Additionally, our solar system revolves in a flat disc-like shape, but the trajectory of Niku moves it outside of this plane. Currently, Niku is above our “solar disc” but experts believe it will arc back downwards and fall below our solar system.
Does this have anything to do with the mysterious Planet Nine?
Well, a paper was published by Ying-Tung Chen of Academia Sinca in Taiwan, along with a distinguished international team of astronomers from Harvard to Germany, that investigated Niku and its origins:
What is it?
The trans-Neptunian object (TNO) Niku has a diameter of about 120 miles and currently has a visibility about 160,000 times fainter than Neptune itself. Initially it was thought to be an anomaly but after being spotted 22 times by various astronomers, it is now being seriously investigated. While you might want to call it a planet, technically that name does not fit the bill and research is being done to figure out exactly what it is.
Why does it have a retrograde orbit?
Although it isn’t certain yet, there are two main theories. Firstly, gravity could have pulled it into our solar system from somewhere further in our galaxy or it could have been affected by a collision, changing its trajectory into our celestial neighborhood.
Is this related to ‘Planet Nine/X’?
Earlier this year, scientists suggested that Planet Nine may exist and might be the reason behind our solar system being tilted. Our sun is off-axis by about 6 degrees from the rest of the planets in our system which may be due to this unknown Planet Nine.
NASA is still reluctant to comment on these rumors and suggests that there isn't enough evidence yet to say that it really exists. However, a representative of NASA has noted that the paper predicting its existence is the start of a process that could potentially lead to a discovery of some kind.
Has there been another planet hiding in our solar system that has escaped our view? Is Niku more evidence for the existence of Planet Nine? This is unknown at the moment, but with research being done right now to unearth more information, we will find out more soon!