A leading British Astronomer suggests that a mysterious object could be hiding in our Solar System’s outer regions. This is based on the analysis of telescope archives containing 250,000 point sources.
Michael Rowan Robinson, a professor of astrophysics from Imperial College of London has unveiled evidence of a strange planet with an orbit far around the Sun that could be 10 times more massive than Earth. Aiming to prove – or rule out – the existence of another big planet beyond Neptune, the UK scientist decided to conduct a new analysis of data collected by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) in 1983.
This telescope took 96% of the sky’s far-infrared spectrum and detected 250,000 points sources. Having analyzed the data, keeping in mind the hypothetical planet’s size and distance, “The survey’s very limits,” he singled out a moving object that the satellite picked out on three occasions.
According to IRAS data the potential candidate for Planet 9 might have five times Earth’s mass. Its orbital separation from the Sun would be about 33.7 billion km (20.9 billion mile) and it would travel 225 times further than Earth.
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The mysterious object could be rotating at such a distance around the Sun, which would make it extremely cold. Also, not enough sunlight would reflect off it. This would make it harder and more difficult to locate. Although the latest research isn’t conclusive, it might be helpful in helping to determine where to find the planet.
“It would be worth checking whether an object in accordance with the Planet 9 Hypothesis parameters, and the area of sky suggested, has the same planetary ephemerides.,” he wrote in the preprint paper, accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
For decades, there has been a debate about the possibility of locating a planet somewhere in our solar system. With no concrete evidence found, there has been speculation about its presence, mainly based on the gravitational clustering of objects in the system’s outer reaches. A suggestion that an icy group of objects located beyond Neptune’s orbit in the Kuiper Belt could be under the gravitational control of another mysterious, larger body was made several years back. This is possibly Planet 9. This claim was not based on observations, but modeling.
Neptune is currently the 8th and furthest planet known from the Sun. In the last century, Pluto, discovered in 1930, was regarded as the ninth planet, but a controversial vote at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006 formally excluded it from the solar system’s ‘planets’, and reclassified it as a dwarf planet.
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