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The six-degree obliquity of the sun suggests that either an asymmetry was present in the solar system's formation environment, or an external torque has misaligned the angular momentum vectors of the sun and the planets.
Batygin & Brown (2016) have recently shown that the physical alignment of distant Kuiper Belt orbits can be explained by a 5-20 Earth-mass planet on a distant, eccentric, and inclined orbit, with an approximate perihelion distance of ~250 AU.
Planet Nine offers a testable explanation for the otherwise mysterious spin-orbit misalignment of the solar system.
Because there is no directly observed stellar companion to the sun (or any other known gravitational influence capable of providing an external torque on the solar system sufficient to produce a six-degree misalignment over its multi-billion-year lifetime Heller 1993), virtually all explanations for the solar obliquity thus far have invoked mechanisms inherent to the nebular stage of evolution.
Recently, Batygin & Brown (2016) determined that the spatial clustering of the orbits of Kuiper Belt objects with semi-major axis a 250AU can be understood if the solar system hosts an additional m9 = 5 − 20m⊕ planet on a distant, eccentric orbit. Here, we refer to this object as Planet Nine . The orbital parameters of this planet reside somewhere along a swath of parameter space spanning hundreds of AU in semi-major axis, significant eccentricity, and tens of degrees of inclination, with a perihelion distance of roughly q9 ∼ 250AU yielding semi-major axes that are frozen in time. Correspondingly, the standard N−planet problem is replaced with a picture in which N massive wires (whose line densities are inversely proportional to the instantaneous orbital velocities) interact gravitationally (Murray & Dermott 1999). Provided that no low-order commensurabilities exist among the planets, this method is well known to reproduce the correct dynamical evolution on timescales that greatly exceed the orbital period (Mardling 2007; Li et al. 2014).
Induction of solar obliquity of some magnitude is an inescapable consequence of the existence of Planet Nine. That is, the effect of a distant perturber residing on an inclined orbit is to exert a mean-field torque on the remaining planets of the solar system, over a timespan of ∼ 4.5 Gyr. In this manner, the gravitational influence of Planet Nine induces precession of the angular momentum vectors of the sun and planets about the total angular momentum vector of the solar system.