Pluto was bumped from that planet nine spot a few years ago, but there’s a new discovery that may take its place.
The planet has been nicknamed “Planet Nine” and has a mass ten times that of Earth. It also orbits around twenty times farther from the sun than Neptune. This means that it would take Planet Nine anywhere from ten thousand to twenty thousand years to make one full orbit around the sun.
The discovery is believed to be in the Kuiper Belt, which is a field of objects and debris past Neptune that all orbit in the same direction.
After a long mathematical and computer simulation, researchers at the California Institute of Technology were led to believe there is a planet exerting the necessary amount of gravity to form these orbits.
Researcher Mike Brown told CNN, “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.”
Caltech is already confident that Planet Nine is indeed large enough to be considered a planet which was the reason why Pluto was kicked out of its place in 2006.
Brown also said, “All those people who are mad that Pluto is no longer a planet can be thrilled to know that there is a real planet out there still to be found. Now we can go and find this planet and make the solar system have nine planets once again.” Brown had previously played a large role in the decision to disregard Pluto as a planet.
The planet will be difficult to find via telescope because of all the debris and crazy orbit of Planet Nine. However, there are many scientists and telescopes that have a huge shot at finding the planet if it’s indeed there.
Brown would very much like to find a planet he helped discover but he also said, “I’d also be perfectly happy if someone else found it. That is why we’re publishing this paper. We hope that other people are going to get inspired and start searching.”
These past few months have been very big for space programs such as Space-X and their achievements and major discoveries that have extensively furthered our knowledge of the solar system. So, the discovery of Planet Nine could be the icing on the cake.