Scientists Find Evidence of a Giant 9th Planet

Posted January 20th, 2016 at 12:24 pm (UTC-4)
3 comments

This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. (Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC))

This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. (Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC))

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology – Caltech -are reporting that they have found evidence of a giant planet traveling in an odd and drawn out orbit in the far reaches of the solar system.

If confirmed the newly found planet would be the solar system’s ninth planet. Pluto had that honor until it was demoted to dwarf planet status back in 2006.

The researchers say this possible new planet, they nicknamed “Planet Nine”, has a mass that’s about 10 times more than Earth and 5,000 times that of Pluto.

“Planet Nine” is thought to orbit the sun from a distance of nearly 20 times farther than Neptune, whose average distance to the sun is about 4.5 billion kilometers.

 Orbital paths of the six most distant known objects in the solar system (magenta) along with theorized path of "Planet Nine". (Lance Hayashida/Caltech)

Orbital paths of the six most distant known objects in the solar system (magenta) along with theorized path of “Planet Nine”. (Lance Hayashida/Caltech)

The Caltech researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, who used mathematical modeling and computer simulations but not direct observations to make their discovery, figured that it would take “Planet Nine” between 10,000 and 20,000 years just to make one complete orbit around the sun.

“This would be a real ninth planet,” says Brown in a Caltech press release. “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.”

Brown and Batygin, who reported their findings in the Astronomical Journal, say that this new presumed planet is so large that there should be no doubt that it’s a true planet, once confirmed.

The researchers say they’re continuing to fine-tune their simulations so that they can find out more about the planet’s orbit, its impact on the outer solar system and have begun, along with others, to scan the skies for a direct look at “Planet Nine”.

Caltech Scientists Find Evidence of 9th Planet (Caltech)
Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

3 responses to “Scientists Find Evidence of a Giant 9th Planet”

  1. Arroxane says:

    We absolutely must name this ninth planet “Edwood”!

  2. NASA in the 1980’s discovered a planet named Planet Nibiru/Planet7x, But with held the evidence from the public. Later on You tube showed it in website You tube Space, but then blacked it out then later showed it again. Now Caltech finds a planet and called it planet nine. Seems a little strange that NASA didn’t find it. Planet aNibiru has a elongated orbit and takes 3600 years to orbit the Sun. Alexander Stitchen wrote a book on Nibiru Called The 12thPlanet and he got some of his story from a astronomer last name Harrington. The Chinese in1054 called it the Guest Star. Gil Broussard also an astronomer/Researcher saw and spoke about it. Dozens of other Countries have seen planet Nibiru and photographed it.Can this Planet nine be Planet Nibiru?