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Harsh Mathur (CWRU)

Date: Tue. January 25th, 2022, 11:30 am-12:30 pm
Location: Zoom

The Phantom Menace: Modified Gravity as an Alternative to the Planet Nine Hypothesis

An exciting development in outer solar system studies is the discovery of a new class of Kuiper belt objects with orbits that lie outside that of Neptune and have semimajor axes in excess of 250 A.U. The alignment of the major axes of these objects and other orbital anomalies are the basis for the Planet Nine hypothesis that an undiscovered giant planet orbits the sun at a distance of around 500 A.U. We show that a modified gravity theory known as MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics) provides an alternative explanation for the observed alignment, owing to significant quadrupolar and octupolar terms in the MOND galactic field within the solar system that are absent in Newtonian gravity. Using the well-established secular approximation of solar system dynamics we predict a population of Kuiper belt objects whose major axes are aligned with the direction to the center of the galaxy and that have additional clustering in orbital parameters. These features are exhibited by known Kuiper belt objects of the newly discovered class in support of the MOND hypothesis. Thus MOND, originally developed to explain galaxy rotation without invoking dark matter, may also be observable in the outer solar system. 
Host: Kurt Hinterbichler
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