The mystery of ninth planet, existing on the icy out edges of the solar system, has perplexed scientists for a long time. In fact, in 2017, NASA officially claimed that it is harder to imagine our solar system without a Planet Nine.
Once again, the existence of the ninth planet, which is likely a world “10 times the mass of Earth and 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune,” is back in the limelight – thanks to top astronomers.
"Every time we take a picture, there is this possibility that Planet Nine exists in the shot," Surhud More, an astronomer at the University of Tokyo told the Washington Post.
Astronomers have claimed there's overwhelming evidence pointing towards this planet's existence. But no telescope has been able to capture it till date.
Image credit: NASA
Michael Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, admits it could be essentially invisible to existing observatories.
Planet Nine's existence was first suggested by experts at Caltech in 2016, after they spotted a group of icy objects in the Kuiper Belt on the edges of the solar system have tilted orbits.
"There are now five different lines of observational evidence pointing to the existence of Planet Nine," Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at Caltech in Pasadena, California, had said in the NASA 2017 press release.
"If you were to remove this explanation and imagine Planet Nine does not exist, then you generate more problems than you solve. All of a sudden, you have five different puzzles, and you must come up with five different theories to explain them," he added.
Astronomers then came up with computer simulations that further supported Planet Nine theory.
Image credit: Pixabay.com
A simulation with eight planets in the solar system did not reproduce the existing tilted orbit. But the addition of ninth planet that matched the properties of proposed by the Caltech researchers.
Scientists are now experimenting with ways to confirm its existence, including looking for the planet's heat glow.