Could the old dwarf planet Pluto have a replacement? Scientists now believe that they have discovered a new ninth planet in our solar system. Although this new planet has not been confirmed, it has scientists spinning.
“Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced January 13 that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto,” reported washingtonpost.com.
Mark Brown, the founder of Eris and Sedna, also discovered Planet Nine with the help from Konstantin Batygin, the Assistant Professor of Planetary Science at the California Institute of Technology. Discoveries of small planets such as Eris, Sedna, and Biden are convincing scientists that a huge, distant planet is having a strong gravitational pull on the smaller planets making their orbits irregular, according to npr.org.
Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who is now studying the planet said, “I think, it’s something that would blow the mind of anyone here on Earth,” reported npr.org.
This new planet is nicknamed “Planet Nine”and it has ten times the mass of Earth. It orbits the sun about 20 times farther than Neptune. It is predicted that the planet would take 10,000 to 20,000 years to orbit the sun, as stated on cnn.com.
“Planet Nine has not actually been observed. Instead, evidence of the planet was discovered through mathematical modeling and computer simulations,” stated nbcnews.com.
One theory of how Planet Nine exists is that during the infancy of our solar system around 4.5 billion years ago, it is predicted that Planet Nine was knocked out of the “planet-forming region” close to the sun. The planet was slowed down by gas and settled into a distant elliptical orbit, where it is today, as stated on sciencemag.org.
Another theory of Planet Nine’s existence is that dwarf planets and other small objects in the solar system seem to be influenced by a gravity of a hidden planet. It is suggested that it might have been flung by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn long ago, reported by washingtonpost.com.
“Depending on where Planet Nine is in its ‘bizarre, highly elongated orbit,’ many telescopes have a shot at finding it,” added cnn.com.
“This would be a real ninth planet,” Brown said. “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,” as stated nbcnews.com.