Good evidence for 9th planet in solar system This artistic rendering provided by California Institute of Technology shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. (R. Hurt/Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/Courtesy of California Institute of Technology via AP/Thinkstock)
Good evidence for 9th planet in solar system
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Scientists have reported they finally have "good evidence" for Planet X. It may be a true ninth planet on the fringes of our solar system.
 
The gas giant is thought to be almost as big as Neptune and orbiting billions of miles beyond Neptune's path. That's distant enough to take 10,000 to 20,000 years to circle the sun.
 
This Planet 9, as the two California Institute of Technology researchers call it, hasn't been spotted yet. They base their findings on mathematical and computer modeling. They anticipate its discovery via telescope within five years or less.
 
The two reported on their research Jan. 20 in the Astronomical Journal because they want people to help them look for it.
 
"We could have stayed quiet and quietly spent the next five years searching the skies ourselves and hoping to find it. But I would rather somebody find it sooner, than me find it later," astronomer Mike Brown told The Associated Press.
 
"I want to see it. I want to see what it looks like. I want to understand where it is, and I think this will help."
 
Once it's detected, Brown insists there will be no Pluto-style planetary debate. Brown ought to know. He's the so-called Pluto killer who helped lead the charge against Pluto's planetary status in 2006. (It's now officially considered a dwarf planet.)
 
His colleague in this latest Planet 9 report, also from Caltech in Pasadena, is planetary scientist Konstantin Batygin.
 
"For the first time in more than 150 years, there's good evidence that the planetary census of the solar system is incomplete," Batygin said. He was referring to Neptune's discovery as Planet 8.
 
The two shaped their prediction on the fact that six objects in the icy Kuiper Belt, or Twilight Zone on the far reaches of the solar system, appear to be influenced by only one thing: a real planet.
 
Brown actually discovered one of these six objects more than a decade ago. It is called Sedna, a large minor planet way out there on the solar system frontier.
 
"This is a prediction. What we have found is a gravitational signature of Planet 9 lurking in the outskirts of the solar system,' Batygin said. "We have not found the object itself," he stressed. He said that the actual discovery, when it happens, will be "era-defining."
 
Added Brown: "We have felt a great disturbance in the force."
 
Depending on where this Planet 9 is in its egg-shaped orbit, a space telescope may be needed to confirm its presence, the researchers said. Or good backyard telescopes may spot it, they noted.  That is if the planet is relatively closer to us in its swing around the sun. It's an estimated 20 billion to 100 billion miles from us.
 
The Caltech researchers prefer calling it Planet 9, versus the historical term Planet X. The latter smacks of "aliens and the imminent destruction of the Earth," according to Brown.
 
The orb - believed to be 10 times more massive than Earth and 5,000 times more massive than dwarf Pluto - may well have rings and moons.
 
The last real planet to be discovered in our solar system was Neptune in 1846. Pluto, discovered in 1930, was once the 9th planet but is now considered a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt. It was visited by Earth for the first time last July. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft accomplished the first-ever flyby.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why wasn't this planet discovered before?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (66)
  • michaelg-ver
    1/29/2016 - 10:11 a.m.

    To me this is amazing! To think there is a 9th planet in our solar system that is actually a planet is an exciting thing to thing about. It may have not been discovered earlier because we have been focusing on everywhere but our own solar system.

  • kieranz1-hor
    1/29/2016 - 11:43 a.m.

    The purpose of this article is to inform people of this new plant that was recently discovered. From this article I learned about how big a solar system can be. I think that it is likely that this planet is a part of our solar system.

  • erikz-bru-bru
    1/29/2016 - 02:01 p.m.

    This planet was not discovered before because it is within 20 billion to 100 billion miles from Earth. We wouldn't even be able to see as far as Planet x if we didn't have the resources that we have today some
    examples of that would be telescopes could not see as far as Planet x and we did not have the computer science. That is why i think we didn't discover this planet before

  • treyr-hor
    1/29/2016 - 02:42 p.m.

    The authors purpose for writing this article is to inform us that there could be another planet in our solar system. I learned that the new planet is almost as big as Neptune. I agree that they shouldn't of talked about it yet, and they should of explored it first.

  • lindsayh-hor
    1/29/2016 - 02:47 p.m.

    I think the authors purpose is to inform others that there could be a ninth planet after all. I think that others will find this interesting and really really cool, jut imagine that there could be another planet that you had no idea about!! I think this article is pretty interesting, and thinking that it might be 5,000 times bigger than planet Earth!! I do agree with the purpose of this article because it informs others and maybe even excite them too.

  • laurena-hor
    1/29/2016 - 03:03 p.m.

    I think the purpose of the author writing this article was to inform us that there might be another historical planet finding that wont be turned down and called a dwarf planet Pluto was definitely not considering it is 10 times earths size! I think it will be a cool asset to our planets, and I hope they make it have a cool, and once they see it! because planet 9 and planet x is too boring and the name would stick out like a sore thumb but I cants wait to see it either! and yes I wonder why haven't seen this planet before!?

  • allied-jon
    2/01/2016 - 12:09 p.m.

    This is a great article if you love space and wonder whast is out their in our solar syste. The nineth planet is a huge planet like jupitar. The new planet is something huge and the sooner we see the planet the sooner the arguement that pluto is aplanet or not.

  • evans1-jon
    2/01/2016 - 12:18 p.m.

    The possibility of a ninth planet (No kids, Pluto is NOT a ninth planet, sorry!) is looming. I cannot wait until we are finally able to see this Planet 9 (Personally, I'm gonna call it Planet X.) So cool!

  • jordanl-jon
    2/01/2016 - 01:52 p.m.

    This is a new planet discovered by scientists on the 20th of January. This planet is said to be 10 times bigger than Earth and take 10,000 to 20,000 years to circle the sun. People are now thinking that the planetary count for our solar system is incomplete. Even though this planet isn't confirmed, but they have strong evidence that it actually exists.

  • bodies-jon
    2/01/2016 - 01:53 p.m.

    Who knew we could have a ninth planet in our solar system.

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