Strange orbits exist in objects in the Kuiper Belt, a distant space tip in the outer solar system. Rocks can be up to 1,000 km in diameter. Many of the comets come here to visit the surroundings of the earth. A planet's gravity should explain these strange orbits. But there is another way. A black hole in the solar system. Its existence was suggested in a study published in 2019. The authors are Jakub Scholtz from Durham University and James Unwin from Chicago University.
Black holes can be of different types and sizes. There are supermassive ones in the centers of the galaxies. There are also planet sizes that arise when larger, heavier stars than supernovae explode. And then there are the original black holes, which according to some theories should have formed in large quantities during the Big Bang. The size range extends from the microscope (with masses of less than one kg) to a few meters with masses lower than that of a star.
But is it possible that there is a black hole in the solar system? It is difficult to check because a telescope does not distinguish them. Princeton University's Edward Witten believes he has a solution. An article published on the arXiv server says that thousands of light probes could be sent to where they should be.
Reverse Stephen Hawking
His proposal is a humble version of Stephen Hawking's Breakthrough Starshot project. He wanted to send thousands of micro-probes to the nearest star and the planet Proxima b. Each micro-probe would use a "space sail" powered by a powerful laser beam sent from the ground. You would make the trip in just 20 years.
Witten expects that a spaceship weighing around 100 g could travel the distance to the supposed black hole in 10 years.
The probes as they approached would feel their gravity and accelerate. This acceleration can be measured. To detect the black hole with this system, the probe measurements should be accurate to 10-5 seconds. Such precision is very difficult to achieve with such small instruments. Witten admits that “it is not clear whether the approach is practical. Not even the best way to do it.
Two other scientists based on this scheme are developing an alternative approach. They would be based on the detection of cross deviations in the trajectories of the probes. Deviations would be caused by the black hole. These changes in direction would be very small over short distances. But on such a long journey, they would accumulate over time.
Whether it's a planet or a black hole, the truth is that "something" is disrupting these orbits. Finding out what it's about has become a top priority for astronomers. Achieving that is only a matter of time.