We currently know that there are eight planets in the solar system, but some time ago there were nine, and no, we’re not talking about Pluto. In the middle of the 19th century, a planet called Vulcan appeared that lasted about 70 years, and Albert Einstein erased it.
Discovery of Neptune
The planet Uranus was discovered in 1781, and in 1846 the mathematician and astronomer, Urban Le Verrier, realized that its orbit was not as predicted by the Newtonian theory of gravity. The differences were few, but they were enough for the scientist to start searching for the cause of this anomaly, and the answer was a new planet beyond Uranus.
Le Verrier made calculations to predict the orbit of this new planet, and its existence was mathematically proven, but the task of finding it using a telescope was left to the German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle, who discovered Neptune at the end of the same year, only to a different degree than expected.
Mercury oscillations and the planet Vulcan
Having succeeded in finding a planet simply by observing the orbit of another, Le Verrier was called upon to observe Mercury and trace its trajectory from Newtonian physics. However, the orbit is meaningless and its oscillations cannot be explained by the influence of other known planets.
Le Verrier therefore suggested that the oscillation was caused by another unknown planet closer to the Sun than Mercury, which he named Vulcan, after the Roman god of fire.
Shortly thereafter, Vulcan’s observations began. Many astronomers have reported seeing the new planet, but they are easily confused by sunspots, known planets, and nearby star sightings. In the end, he was never seen and the idea of his existence faded away until after 1915, with Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
In it, gravity is described as the curvature of space-time caused by massive objects, and the closest objects are affected the most. Thus, Mercury’s vibrations can be explained by its proximity to the Sun, without the need for any other planet.
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