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Search narrows for mysterious Planet Nine

Posted on Wednesday, 24 February, 2016 | Comment icon 23 comments

Is there really a ninth planet lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system ? Image Credit: NASA
Astronomers in France have managed to narrow down the area in which the new planet could be located.
Nobody knows exactly where it is, how big it is or if it even exists at all, but when researchers at the California Institute of Technology revealed earlier this year that the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system was a very real possibility, the hunt for this enigmatic new world began in earnest.

Scientists believe that if it does exist, the new planet is likely to be around ten times the mass of the Earth and could take up to 20,000 years to complete a single orbit around the sun. It is also likely to be twenty times further out from the sun than the current furthermost planet, Neptune.

Now following a new analysis of data collected by the Cassini orbiter around Saturn, scientists in France have been able to conclusively rule out several regions of the solar system by developing mathematical models detailing the new planet's gravitational effects on the other eight planets.

Their work has effectively reduced the number of places Planet Nine could be by 50%.

"The most distant objects all swing out in one direction in a very strange way that shouldn't happen, and we realized the only way we could get them to swing in one direction is if there is a massive planet, also very distant in the Solar System, keeping them in place," said CIT's Dr Mike Brown at the time of the original Planet Nine announcement back in January.

"There are many telescopes on the Earth that actually have a chance of being able to find it and I'm really hoping that as we announce this, people start a worldwide search to go find this ninth planet."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (23)

Tags: Planet X, Planet Nine, Solar System

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by Derek Willis on 25 February, 2016, 21:10
It would have to be a mass of some sort, either a single planet or a series of planetoids. I like the quote at the end of The Guardian article link: "Many other planets have been predicted through modelling over the years - mostly wrongly".
Comment icon #15 Posted by Nnicolette on 26 February, 2016, 8:58
I will say what i said in the other thread which is probably wrong but... Looking at this diagram of perturbations and where the object would be... I dont think its evidence of an object but evidence that the movement of the sun through space hasnt been calculated into the drag of the orbits.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Derek Willis on 26 February, 2016, 11:18
What do you mean by the "drag" of the orbits? The orbits are elongated because orbits are ellipses. The orbits are not elongated because they are being dragged out due to the Sun's motion in space.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 26 February, 2016, 13:45
I wasn't trying to imply that the errors were made because the calculations were done by hand, rather I was suggesting that with supercomputers we can run simulations that simply weren't possible before. Sorry if I wasn't clear on that.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Derek Willis on 26 February, 2016, 19:06
Ah, yes, I now see what you mean. I thought you were suggesting Lowell got things wrong because back then all he had was hand calculations. However, you were meaning that we now have the advantage of running dynamic simulations with supercomputers. Looking back it is pretty obvious what you meant, so it should be me apologizing for misinterpreting what you wrote. My bad, as they say!
Comment icon #19 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 26 February, 2016, 20:44
No problem sir, at least we are now singing from the same hymn sheet.
Comment icon #20 Posted by JesseCuster on 29 February, 2016, 23:23
Orbits don't work that way.
Comment icon #21 Posted by qxcontinuum on 6 March, 2016, 6:10
Nibiru ...
Comment icon #22 Posted by Rlyeh on 6 March, 2016, 8:11
Is Jupiter.

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