Mind-Blowing: Medieval Tapestries Hold Secrets of ‘Planet Nine’!

In the vast expanse of our solar system, beyond the familiar planets, lies a tantalizing mystery — a hypothetical world known as “Planet Nine.” This enigmatic entity, if it indeed exists, would be an icy giant with a mass roughly ten times that of Earth, orbiting about 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune. While modern astronomy continues to search for this elusive planet, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast are turning to ancient records to shed light on this celestial puzzle.

Marilina Cesario, a medievalist at Queen’s University, is part of this unique project. She highlights the wealth of historical records spanning Old English, Old Irish, Latin, and Russian that document comet sightings. These records, often overlooked, contain valuable data such as dates and times, offering a window into celestial events observed by early medieval civilizations.

The quest for Planet Nine stems from gravitational anomalies observed in the Kuiper Belt, an icy region beyond Neptune. While astronomers have yet to directly detect Planet Nine, the gravitational influence it could exert explains certain phenomena in the outer solar system. This prompts Pedro Lacerda, an astronomer at Queen’s University and co-leader of the project, to explore how medieval comet sightings might contribute to understanding Planet Nine’s potential orbit.

By leveraging computer simulations and comparing historical comet sightings with and without Planet Nine’s inclusion, researchers aim to refine our understanding of the solar system’s dynamics. This interdisciplinary approach bridges astronomy and history, showcasing how diverse fields can collaborate to unravel scientific mysteries.

The collaboration between Cesario and Lacerda underscores the interdisciplinary nature of this endeavor. Their joint efforts, fueled by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, blend astronomical data with medieval insights. An exhibition at the Ulster Museum titled “Marvelling at the skies: Comets Through the Eyes of the Anglo-Saxons” showcases this fusion, juxtaposing modern astronomical imagery with ancient depictions, including references to Halley’s Comet in the famous Bayeux Tapestry.

The exhibit not only illuminates medieval perceptions of celestial phenomena but also underscores the ongoing human fascination with the cosmos. Cesario emphasizes that medieval observers were not merely superstitious; they displayed genuine curiosity and attempted to rationalize the world around them, including celestial events like comets.

For Lacerda, the ability to utilize millennium-old data in contemporary scientific inquiry is remarkable. This convergence of past and present, bridging medieval observations with modern theories, exemplifies the enduring quest for knowledge that transcends temporal boundaries.

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