Scientists Want to Find Out if Planet Nine Is a Black Hole
Researchers say a new observatory will help them see if the supposed Planet Nine is actually gobbling up comets.
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS — Astronomers from Harvard University have proposed a task for the Legacy Survey of Space and Time, or LSST, mission to determine if the speculated Planet Nine is in fact a primordial black hole.
According to the study in The Astronomical Journal Letters, Oort Cloud comets could be used to detect the black hole, because an intercepted comet would flare up and trip the observatory's sensors.
According to a news release from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, a comet approaching the black hole would melt after meeting the accretion disk's heat. The black hole's tidal forces would then disrupt the comet and deposit the matter onto the disk. This process would emit radiation flares.
The upcoming LSST has high sensitivity and the ability to scan the entire night sky twice per week, while current sensors have to be trained at a predetermined spot. The LSST's advantages should allow astronomers to detect flares from smaller impacts than before.
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