Periodic comet showers and planet X

Abstract

The discovery1 that Pluto's mass is insufficient to explain the discrepancies in the motions of the outer planets has led to the prediction of a tenth planet (planet X) of mass 1–5 M beyond the orbit of Pluto (50–100 AU)2,3. Further, the existence of a belt or disk of comets beyond the orbit of Neptune (35 AU) has been proposed in connection with some theories of the origin of the Solar System4,5 as a possible source of short-period comets6 and indirectly as a source of long-period comets7,8. Here we point out that the existence of both planet X and the comet disk at their expected distances may explain not only the observed planetary motions and the origin of comets, but also the recently reported 28-Myr periodicity in terrestrial cratering9–11 and in mass extinctions11,12. The cratering period is associated with the precession of the perihelion of planet X caused by the perturbations of the outer planets.

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Whitmire, D., Matese, J. Periodic comet showers and planet X. Nature 313, 36–38 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1038/313036a0

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