The Outer Solar System

Speaker: 
Matthew Payne (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Event Date and Time: 
Mon, 2017-04-03 15:30 - 16:45
Location: 
Hennings 318
Local Contact: 
Aaron Boley and Jaymie Matthews
Intended Audience: 
Graduate
I will discuss recent discoveries arising from our detailed search of the Pan-STARRS Outer Solar System survey data. These include the discovery of several hundred Kuiper-Belt and Scattered-Disk Objects, as well as Neptune Trojans and a possible population of Centaurs that appear to occupy a common plane. In addition I will discuss the heliocentric linking methodology that has facilitated these discoveries. I will go on to discuss issues related to the putative "Planet-9", a ~10 Earth-Mass planet hypothesized to lurk unseen in a distant orbit at the edge of the Solar System. Such a massive planet would tidally distort the orbits of the other planets in the Solar System. These distortions can potentially be measured and/or constrained through precise observations of the orbits of the outer planets and distant trans-Neptunian objects. I will discuss our recent (and ongoing) attempts to observationally constrain the allowed mass and orbit of Planet Nine via (a) measurements of the orbit of Pluto, and (b) measurements of the orbit of Saturn derived from the Cassini spacecraft.
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