Planet Nine: Scientist may have discovered a brand new planet in our backyard

Written by: Isadora Linheira


Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) confirmed the existence of a possible ninth planet on Jan. 20. Two of the CalTech researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, said that the nicknamed “Planet Nine” has a mass 10 times the size of Earth, and has an orbit around the sun that takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete.

“This would be a real ninth planet. There have only ben two true planets discovered since ancient times, and this would be the third.” Brown said. In 1930 Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh and since then no other planet has been discovered. Pluto was removed from the list of planets in 2006, and “Planet Nine” would take the place as the ninth planet.

CNN reported that Batygin and Brown have not actually seen the planet, but had found objects in the “field of icy objects and debris beyond Neptune,” known as the Kuiper Belt, that pointed in the same direction. Brown and Batygin collaborated for two years in order to ensure that the space debris was indeed a potentially a new planet.

The new planet was discovered through mathematical modeling and computer simulation, allowing researchers to see that planet nines gravitational pull was shaping the objects’ orbits. Even though the researchers are not completely sure about the planet’s location, they say it maybe possible to see it from some of the observatories in Hawaii.

According to CalTech scientists research, the early solar system may have begun with four planetary cores, and over time they moved to their main locations. However, Brown says, “…there’s no reason that there could not have been five cores, rather than four.” It is believed that the fifth core could have been ejected into a distant orbit, which would be represented by Planet Nine.

Brown says that the discovery of planet nine also answers some former questions about the types of planets that commonly inhabit our solar system, “One of the most startling discoveries about other planetary systems has been that the most common type of planet out there has a mass between that of Earth and that of Neptune. Until now, we’ve thought that the solar system was lacking in this most common type of planet.”


Photo Courtesy of: Caltech. Chart representation of Planet Nine location.

Photo Courtesy of: Caltech.
Chart representation of Planet Nine location.

However, it will take more proof of planet nine before it is added into the list of current planets in our solar system. The CalTech team will be working to gather more proof and garner a possible view of the planet. For now, just like the universe, Planet Nine remains mostly a mystery.

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