BY: CAROLINE ROLF
Somewhere past infinity and beyond, an object is lurking in the depths of the solar system, just waiting to be discovered.
This object is none other than the possibility of Planet X, an orb much larger than Earth with a mass ten times that of our home. The frosty planet is between 600 and 1,200 times farther from the Sun than Earth and takes around 20,000 years to make one full revolution around the Sun.
Astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin found evidence of this dark planet far past Neptune and our forgotten friend, Pluto. Batygin described their findings in the Astronomical Journal as “… the first observational evidence that the planetary census of the solar system is incomplete,” and the astrophysicist adds, “We’re truly living in a special time.” Of course, they haven’t exactly seen the planet yet, so how do they know so much about it, or even know it exists? A ninth planet would explain the orbit of six other objects in close proximity.
The six most distant objects known in our solar system have mysteriously similar orbits.
These six foreign objects are the most distant ones known in our solar system. Sedna and five other worlds are beyond the gravitation pull of Neptune, yet they have similar orbits in the same area among the stars. Other predictions were soon ruled out and scientists were left with the real possibility of a ninth planet.
It’s not the first time scientists have discovered a planet in theory before actually observing it. Perhaps the detection of Planet X will make up for numerous failed past predictions. Astronomers have a decent idea of where to look, but recognizing the planet won’t be easy. Finding such a faint object will require the power of the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. With a wide range of view into our night sky, scientists could explode our conception of the cosmos within five years.
The Subaru Telescope is the best tool for finding Planet X.
If the existence of X were confirmed, what would be an appropriate name for the planet? Brown notes that neither Uranus nor Neptune were named by their discoverers and thinks that this is bigger than any one person. Such exciting evidence points to the addition of a ninth planet for the solar system (or tenth, depending on your feelings towards Pluto). The hunt is on for a shadow amongst the stars.