Scientists find evidence of "Planet Nine"

Is there a Planet Nine beyond Pluto?
Is there a Planet Nine beyond Pluto?
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Out there -- way out there beyond Pluto -- there may be a massive planet. Astronomers are calling it Planet Nine. 

   Here is the rundown: 

The  research: The discovery of a possible ninth planet is discussed in Evidence for a Distant Giant Planet in the Solar System, by Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown of the California Institute of Technology. Brown is the well-known scientist who discovered Eris, a dwarf planet with an orbit “well out of the plane of the solar system's planets,” according to NASA.  The find led to the demotion of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet. Brown also wrote a book about it: How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had it Coming,(Spiegel & Grau; 2010).

The argument: Published Jan. 20 in The Astronomical Journal, the paper argues that scattered disks in the Kuiper Belt are exhibiting “an unexpected clustering.” The authors write that “such a clustering has only a probability of .007 percent to be due to chance.”  The orbital alignment, they wrote, “can be maintained by a distant eccentric planet.”

The explanation: In an interview on Cal Tech's YouTube website, the two scientists describe how their ideas developed:
    “What we have discovered,” Batygin said, “is that numerous features of the Kuiper Belt, the field of icy debris beyond Neptune, can be understood if the solar system possesses an additional ninth planet that resides well beyond the orbits of the known planets.”
     Most distant objects beyond Neptune and Pluto are going around the sun “pointing off in different directions,” Brown explains. “But the most distant objects all swing out in one direction in a very strange way that shouldn’t happen. And we realized that the only way we could get them to all swing in one direction is if there is a massive planet, also very distant in the solar system, keeping them in place while they all go around the sun.” [Watch the full video below.]

About Planet Nine: It could have a mass about 10 times that of Earth. The astronomers made the find using mathematical modes and computer simulations, a Cal Tech news release pointed out. The planet has not yet been spotted with a telescope.




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