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'Strong evidence' in case for 9th planet

Posted on Thursday, 21 January, 2016 | Comment icon 49 comments

The rumored planet may have an orbital period of up to 20,000 years. Image Credit: NASA
Astronomers in the US believe that there could be a large undiscovered planet in our own solar system.
Rumors of a 'Planet X' have been going on for years, but now a team from the California Institute of Technology has put forward a convincing case to suggest that this enigmatic '9th planet' could actually exist and that if it does it is likely to be ten times larger than the Earth.

While no direct observations of such a world have yet been made, astronomers believe that there is strong evidence for its existence based on the way other far-flung objects are moving.

Their calculations have indicated that the undiscovered planet should be orbiting around 20 times further out from the sun than the current furthermost planet, Neptune, and could take as long as 20,000 years to complete just a single lap around the sun.

"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 Dr Mike Brown.

"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."

If it turns out that this large, undiscovered world really does exist in the outer reaches of the solar system then it will surely be one of the most significant astronomical discoveries ever made.

Source: BBC News | Comments (49)

Tags: Planet X, Solar System

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #40 Posted by JesseCuster on 23 January, 2016, 14:05
I fail to see how scientists hypothesizing this planet, discovering this planet and then studying this planet would be "egg on their faces". How is it "egg on their face" for astronomers to find a new planet in our solar system? It's astronomers who are proposing the idea and searching for evidence that might prove it correct. Isn't that how science works? It's not like it's been screamingly obvious to everyone else that this planet exists and astronomers were actively laughing at the concept and will be proven wrong by some non-scientists, thus ending up with astronomers having "egg on their ... [More]
Comment icon #41 Posted by Parsec on 23 January, 2016, 17:21
So, this would be Tyche or yet another planet, given the different characteristics of the two? And how does this finding match with WISE's survey? I also find interesting Stereologist's post in that thread The article makes a common mistake which is thinking that the names planet X, Tyche, and Nemesis refer to the same object. They do not. Each refers to a different search for an object with different properties. These are different theories and each has been shown to be incorrect for different reasons. Planet X was shown not ot exist after it was learned that Neptune's mass was 0.5% off when ... [More]
Comment icon #42 Posted by Rawbone on 23 January, 2016, 22:32
After reviewing my post and researching this further, I'm wiping the egg off my own face. Thanks to my fellow posters and Waspie for bringing this to my attention. I think using the term ''scoffing' was over the top. It does, in retrospect, look like good Science was practiced here.
Comment icon #43 Posted by Likely Guy on 24 January, 2016, 5:26
Yes you might be able to spot it with Hubble... if you know where to look. Before this no one knew where to look. ' Someone may have already said this by now, but from what I understand Hubble wasn't designed to focus that closely. Maybe Voyager II will smack into it and confirm it's existence. Too late? A shot in the dark?
Comment icon #44 Posted by Reepa on 25 January, 2016, 15:13
I truly believe the next 50 years will see unprecedented discoveries and exploration of our solar system and beyond. Exciting times ahead.
Comment icon #45 Posted by kapow53 on 26 January, 2016, 2:03
Scientifically speaking this how many planets stuff is hard to keep up with.
Comment icon #46 Posted by Solipsi Rai on 27 January, 2016, 18:38
Why...we have another planet in our solar system neighborhood, despite in the farthest reaches away from the sun (95-100 IAU from Sol III?). OTOH, astronomers said they didn't confirm the actual existence of such a planet (4-10 times the size of earth?) and its orbit is somewhere between 10k-20k years long...they have to find out the exact orbital year. The media made this story a big deal of "a discovery" when in fact astronomers could use telescopes to look for a planet that might not even be there at all!
Comment icon #47 Posted by Merc14 on 21 February, 2016, 19:21
A new theory out of Harvard is that this new planet may actually be another Kuiper Belt
Comment icon #48 Posted by Nnicolette on 22 February, 2016, 17:15
Here is a diagram from mercs link about where the object is expected. I do not see that from this picture though, what i see is evidence that the sun is flying through space at a massive speed which hasn't been calculated into the motion. but of course thats why they dont pay me.
Comment icon #49 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 22 February, 2016, 17:23
Scientifically speaking this how many planets stuff is hard to keep up with. Counting to 8 is hard, huh?

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