Space & Astronomy
How close are we to finding Planet Nine ?
By T.K. Randall
October 15, 2017 · 4 comments
Is there an undiscovered world in the outer solar system and if so, what is it ? Image Credit: NASA
Scientists have developed a computer simulation that defines the exact orbit and behavior of Planet Nine.
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 last 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.
Believed to be up to ten times the mass of the Earth and with an orbital period of up to 20,000 years, Planet Nine, if it exists, will be situated somewhere beyond the orbit of Neptune.
There has even been speculation that this mysterious world could be a brown dwarf star which, if true, would mean that we actually live in a binary star system.
Now two planetary scientists - Konstantin Batygin and Alessandro Morbidelli - have put together a sophisticated computer simulation detailing, for the first time, the precise orbit of Planet Nine.
"I've always tried to be explicit about the fact that what we are proposing is not just the existence of a planet," said Batygin, co-author of the original paper. "Rather, it is the existence of a planet that sculpts a specific orbital pattern through a rather distinct physical mechanism."
"With our new understanding of how Planet Nine sculpts the observed patterns in the data, we have been able to zoom in on its true orbit further."
All that remains now is for someone to actually observe the planet directly.
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