Scientists have discovered a chunk of mass in outer space that may very well be the ninth planet in our solar system, according to a study by the California Institute of Technology.
The mass, which Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown are calling “Planet Nine”, is 10 times as heavy as Earth. Its orbit, or distance traveled around the sun, is twenty times farther than that of Neptune.
“It would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun,” Batygin and Brown said as quoted by CNN on Thursday, January 21.
The two scientists found ‘Planet Nine’ beyond Neptune at the Kuiper Belt.
Mathematical models and computer simulations pointed to a mass large enough to be a planet as the source of gravity creating the orbits in the Kuiper Belt, the scientists were quoted as saying on the CNN report.
“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,” said Batygin.
Brown added that this new planet was “large enough” to cross out debate on whether it may be considered a “true planet.” Brown is the scientist who declared Pluto a dwarf planet in 2006.
“All those people who are mad that Pluto is no longer a planet can be thrilled to know that there is a real planet out there still to be found. Now we can go and find this planet and make the solar system have nine planets once again,” said the scientist.
The two scientists believe that Planet Nine can easily be seen from telescopes because of its “bizarre, highly elongated orbit.” But Batygin and Brown aren’t going to hog all the glory of discovering the new planet.
“I’d also be perfectly happy if someone else found it. That is why we’re publishing this paper. We hope that other people are going to get inspired and start searching,” said Brown.