I received my doctorate in Physics, and you might think that I’m feeling pretty secure in my knowledge of the science, but there is something about Physics that many don’t take into consideration. We might wake up tomorrow, and a new discovery is made that turns everything on its ear. In Physics, Astronomy falls under its umbrella, and we are constantly defining and redefining what we know to be the Universe. Whether it is understanding of black holes, the classification of planets, or even how light travels across the stars, Astronomy contains so many mysteries within it, and sometimes when those mysteries are solved, we still find ourselves asking questions.
Questions like “What makes our Sun tilt?”
Wait, did you know that the Sun does have a rather mysterious tilt to it? No, it is never a good idea to stare at the Sun for too long, but if you could do so without any danger of harm, you would see that the sun is slightly tilted relative to the plane of our Solar System. Other scientists have speculated from the Sun’s point of view, our star is actually straight and the solar plane is tilted. It’s a point open for debate, but no one is asking the more pressing question to this little mystery—why? Why is the solar plane or the Sun itself at a tilt?
For the sake of this argument, I’m going with the theory that it is the Sun that is on the tilt. Accepting that, there is something very unusual going on here. There has never been a convincing argument for why the Sun is tilted. Until now. In a new study slated for publication in The Astrophysical Journal, three planetary scientists at Caltech contend that the tilt was caused by Planet Nine. No, not Pluto. Pluto is still regarded as a dwarf planet. “Planet Nine” is a hypothetical planet located on the outer edge of our solar system, somewhere in the region of the Kuiper Belt. It is believed that this as-yet-unseen planet exists on account of six Kuiper Belt Objects or KBOs that hold orbits consistent with gravity from a massive object. Based on the KBOs’ orbits, Planet Nine is thought to be ten times bigger than Earth and about 500 times farther from the Sun than the earth, according to Space.com. Its orbit is believed to be inclined at a 30 degree angle from the other planets, and it is this undiscovered planet’s influence of 30 degrees that is making all the other planets in our solar system slightly tilted. You might think that such a thing is impossible, considering how much area our solar system covers. How could one more object so far away have such an effect? Well, that’s the amazing thing about gravity. Between the Sun and the other planets, we are all held together by gravity and play off one another. Gravity is pretty amazing the more you look into its effects, and how itr works to keep things like planets in balance. Planet Nine’s gravitational forces have been tugging on the other planets in such a way that has gradually caused their own orbital planes to shift. The Sun’s spin, according to scientists, is now tilted about 6 degrees off the orbital plane of the major planets. It is believed that this mysterious ice giant is the reason behind it.
A research physicist who has become an entrepreneur and educational leader, and an expert on competency-based education, critical thinking in the classroom, curriculum development, and education management, Dr. Richard Shurtz is the president and chief executive officer of Stratfdord University. He has published over 30 technical publications, holds 15 patents, and is host of the weekly radio show, Tech Talk. A noted expert on competency-based education, Dr. Shurtz has conducted numerous workshops and seminars for educators in Jamaica, Egypt, India, and China, and has established academic partnerships in China, India, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Malaysia, and Canada.