Two astronomers at Caltech have found evidence that indicates the presence of a ninth planet in our solar system. If confirmed, it would transform the model of our solar system as we know it.
'Planet Nine", as researchers are calling it, has a mass of about 10 times that of Earth and 2 to 4 times the size of Earth’s diameter. It’s so large that it would be the fifth-largest planet in our solar system.
What makes this planet so unique?It has a highly elongated orbit that “faces” a different direction than every other planet in our solar system. The orbit itself is so long that it would take Planet Nine between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete one trip around the sun! Mike Brown, is the famed “Pluto Killer” who provided evidence that led to the demotion of Pluto as a planet,pointed out that Planet Nine is roughly 5,000 times the mass of Pluto.
In 2014, astronomers Chad Trujillo and Scott Shepherd published a paper noting that over a dozen Kuiper Belt objects all had an odd feature in their orbit. It appeared that something with significant gravitational force was slightly “nudging” these objects throughout their trip around the sun.In that effort to explain these orbits, they suggested the possibility of a planet.They even suggested the possibility of a large number of undiscovered Kuiper Belt objects, but that didn’t match up with current evidence of the total mass of the Kuiper Belt.
They even suggested the possibility of a large number of undiscovered Kuiper Belt objects, but that didn’t match up with current evidence of the total mass of the Kuiper Belt.Brown and Batygin found that the orbits align just right to prevent any collisions. Over time, the astronomers were becoming increasingly convinced of the Planet Nine theory.
The next step to confirm Planet Nine’s existence is to image it directly.Depending on its location, it could be hidden in the images of previous sky surveys. If it’s not there, this will be a job for the world’s largest telescopes.After yesterday’s big announcement, the race is on to be the first to image the newest planet in our solar system!