The universe never ceases to amaze us, as somethings new is discovered every day. Humans have always wanted to learn more about the universe we live in, and its exploration has fascinated everyone, not only scientists. In the modern era, new technology has helped scientists gain more data and form interesting theories through their research. When evidence is provided, theories become facts. Here is what was recently announced about our universe and, more precisely, our solar system.
Two renowned planetary scientists, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, have recently announced in “The Astronomical Journal“ that they have evidence for the existence of a new ninth planet. According to them, a celestial body about the size of Neptune (with the mass of 10 earths) orbits the sun every 15,000 years. However, this planet, Planet X as they call it, hasn’t been seen yet.
Batygin is a 29-year-old whiz kid computer modeler and Brown is a 50-year-old observational astronomer. These two brilliant scientists reached the conclusion that this planet exists by observing the peculiar clustering of six previously known objects that orbit beyond Neptune. They believe that there are very small chances of this clustering being a coincidence. When they refer to the formation of this planet, they explain that 4.5 billion years ago, the giant planet was knocked out of the planet-forming region near the sun. After being slowed down by gas, the planet settled into a distant elliptical orbit, where it still lurks today.
The scientists have been using a large telescope in Hawaii and are eager to invite more specialists to join them in their research. Using Subaru, an 8-meter telescope owned by Japan, has been really helpful for them, as it is an instrument specially designed for these assignments.
According to Brown, people will believe in the existence of Planet X only when it is visible through the telescope. “Until there’s a direct detection, it’s a hypothesis – even a potentially very good hypothesis,” he says. However, Alessandro Morbidelli, a planetary dynamicist at the Nice Observatory in France, thinks that Batygin and Brown made a “very solid argument” and states that he is “quite convinced by the existence of a distant planet”.
Brown believes that it will take approximately 5 years for the researchers to examine the area where Planet X could be lurking. Are they going to make it? Will Planet X be visible through the telescope? And is it possible that more new planets will be discovered in our solar system in the near future? More secrets of the universe are yet to be revealed.