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Medieval Tapestries Searched for Evidence of a Ninth Planet

Medieval Tapestries Searched for Evidence of a Ninth Planet
(Wikimedia Commons)

By    |   Monday, 07 May 2018 11:45 AM

Medieval tapestries and archives could provide clues to astronomers' search for evidence of a possible ninth planet, LiveScience.com reported Friday.

Those records documenting the passage of comets through space as they reached the visibility of those on Earth could help scientists build a case for the mysterious Planet Nine, according to Queen's University Belfast researchers in Northern Ireland. LiveScience.com noted.

Researchers believe that if Planet Nine exist, it would be 10 times the size of Earth and orbit 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune, LiveScience.com wrote. Scientists believe that a ninth planet beyond Neptune would explain mysterious gravitational forces in the Kupier Belt, a line of icy bodies past Neptune, the website said.

"This research project renegotiates the meaning and importance of medieval science and demonstrates how medieval records of comets can help test the theory of the existence of the elusive 'Planet Nine,'" Marilina Cesario, from the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen's University, said in a statement.

"Looking at records of comets in Old English, Latin, Old Irish and Russian texts we aim to show that the early medieval people actually recorded genuine astronomical observations, reflecting their interest in cosmology and understanding of the heavens," Cesario continued.

A new, interactive exhibition exploring the Anglo-Saxons understanding of space in the Middle Ages will run at the Ulster Museum in Belfast until June 3, Queen's University said. By combining records of comets from Anglo-Saxon sources with current images of comets from NASA and other sources, the exhibition gives some of the earliest contemporary descriptions of a comet in England, the university said.

"The idea for this study came about from the strong desire to challenge the common assumption and perceived lack of scientific enquiry in the early Middle Ages, or commonly referred to as 'Dark Ages,'" Cesario said in the university's statement. "This was the spark that ignited the intellectual collaboration between a medievalist and an astronomer."

Pedro Lacerda, a Queen's University astronomer who is leading the project with Cesario, said that the medieval records could provide yet another tool in tracking down the planet, LiveScience.com wrote.

"We can take the orbits of comets currently known and use a computer to calculate the times when those comets would be visible in the skies during the Middle Ages," Lacerda told Live Science.

"The precise times depend on whether our computer simulations include Planet Nine. So, in simple terms, we can use the medieval comet sightings to check which computer simulations work best: the ones that include Planet Nine or the ones that do not," Lacerda added.

LiveScience.com explained that Planet Nine is not Pluto, which was once the ninth planet before scientists demoted it to a dwarf planet in 2006. It is also not Nibiru, a fictional "rogue planet" that conspiracy theorists sometimes claim is coming to destroy the Earth, LiveScience.com wrote.

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Evidence of a possible ninth planet may be included on medieval tapestries and archives documenting the passage of comets through space.
medieval, tapestries, ninth, planet
Monday, 07 May 2018 11:45 AM
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