Scientists discover an elusive Planet Nine
Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have found evidence in the outer solar system of an object that could be a ninth planet – and it’s further away than dwarf planet Pluto.
Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, researchers at Caltech, might have found the answer to the odd-looking space rocks spinning in alignment. Though perplexed at first, astronomers and researchers have announced that a huge ninth planet has been discovered at the edge of the solar system.
According to CNN, the planet, nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune.
That means a year on Planet Nine is as long as between 10 000 and 20 000 Earth years.
The researchers at Caltech – the university at which science sitcom The Big Bang Theory is set – said that the planet’s distance from the sun would mean it is extremely cold.
They also said it had evaded detection for so long because of how far away it is.
Researchers have calculated that the closest the planet comes to the sun is 15 times the distance from Pluto, and a ray of sunshine would take up to a week to get there.
“There have only been two true planets discovered since ancient times, and this would be a third. It’s a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that’s still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting,” said Brown.
The researchers are quite confident that Planet Nine is large enough to rule out any further debate about whether or not it is a new planet. Pluto was discovered in 1930, but was later reclassified and downgraded as a dwarf planet.
But there are still some reservations about the planet – one focuses on how such a large planet could be on the furthest edges of the solar system and remain undetected.
The planet is so large that with sensitive telescopes, astronomers should be able to see it crossing the night sky. The search has already begun with the Subaru telescope in Hawaii.