Are There Unseen Planets Lurking in the Kuiper Belt?
Recent studies have found tantalizing clues pointing to the possibility that our outer solar system is hiding one or more unseen planets. These clues come from the observed set of Kuiper belt objects, icy bodies like Pluto that orbit the sun at distances beyond Neptune. The most distant of these Kuiper belt objects might be hinting at the existence of a 10 Earth mass planet a few hundred times farther from the sun than the Earth is. The unexpectedly warped average orbital plane of the more nearby Kuiper belt objects hints at a much closer, Mars to Earth mass planet. Dr. Volk will outline the evidence we have for these potential planets, discuss the challenges of finding objects in the distant solar system, and discuss ongoing and future surveys that will help us improve our inventory of the outer solar system.