Back in 2014, astronomers Scott Shepherd of Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC, along with Chadwick Trujillo of Gemini Observatory, Hawaii, proposed a hypothetical ninth planet in the far reaches of our Solar System.
Known as Planet Nine, the existence of this ninth potential addition to the elite club of planets has never been visually confirmed. However, the mathematical models based on the orbital patterns of many outer solar system objects have been collectively suggesting that a massive planet with around 10-times the mass of Earth and four times its size is lurking in the dark corners of the Solar System. In fact, scientists think that the hypothetical planet’s distance from the Sun could be as high as several hundreds of astronomical units (AU).
(Note: One AU is the Earth-sun distance, about 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.)
Among the many research teams that are currently searching from elusive Planet Nine, two scientists from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) think that it’s only a matter of time till they have conclusive evidence supporting Nine’s existence.
Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, the aforementioned researchers had submitted credible data earlier this year that further concreted the existence of a massive, undiscovered object beyond Pluto. In less than a couple of months back, the researchers told the media that they have sufficient evidence to believe that Planet Nine has a tilted orbit — more or less the same as the other 8 planet, 6-degrees relative to the Sun.
While they were yet to pinpoint a location for the new world, Brown suggested that it currently lies in or around the aphelion, meaning nearly 1,000 AU from the SUN. He further stated that a planet of that size would have been easily spotted if it was somewhat closer to Earth. He also noted that the planet has a highly elliptical orbit
However, Brown is optimistic that the planet will be found sooner than later even with the existing technologies at humanity’s disposal. “This is well within reach of the giant telescopes,” he said. “The Subaru telescope, I think, on Mauna Kea, [in Hawaii] — the Japanese national telescope — is the prime instrument for doing the search. But there are a lot of other people who have clever ideas on how to find it, too, that are trying with their own telescopes.”