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Ancient black holes from the dawn of time may be altering our planet's orbit

Ancient black holes from the dawn of time may be altering our planet's orbit

Are primordial black holes flying past us regularly? There’s only one way to find out…

Black holes are the stuff (or dark matter) of science fiction legend, with the greedy galactic entities famous for guzzling stars among other tasty treats.

But what would you say to the idea that some ancient black holes pass by us regularly?

Alright, so by 'us' we mean our cosmic neighborhood – but you get the picture.

Baac3nes / Getty

A new study published in arXiv suggests that some of the universe’s oldest black holes, known as primordial black holes (PBHs), could be literally moving planets when they pass by.

PBHs formed in the second after the Big Bang, and depending on when exactly in that second they emerged into existence, they could have the mass of a paper clip or thousands upon thousands of suns.

However, none of these PBHs have ever been conclusively identified – but by studying the movements of planets and moons, we might be able to detect their presence.

Don’t worry – if a PBH encountered Earth, it wouldn’t destroy us, but a flyby could see the orbits of our planets and moons alter by inches or feet over time.

DrPixel / Getty

To work this out, researchers looked at how closely a PBH would have to fly past an object in the solar system to change its movement.

Using information about the positions moons and planets from the JPL Horizons database (which records the position of a staggering amount of stuff out in the solar system), researchers used simulations to work our how the movements of planets and moons would change.

The result could mean we can work out a PBH’s passage, but it's not quite as simple as that.

Researchers from the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say we need more precise simulations and better quality observations to work this sort of thing out. While we have great measurements for the distance between Earth and some celestial objects, such as Mars, this is not the case with other planets and moons.

Once the science improves though, those PBHs don’t stand a chance.

Featured Image Credit: ESO/NASA / 7nuit/ Getty