Is there a Planet Nine out there, hiding in the far ends of our Solar System?

"It is now harder to imagine our solar system without a Planet Nine than with one," says NASA.


My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine…?

While P for Pizzas denoting P for Pluto was removed from this perfect mnemonic that elementary school children once used in order to memorise the planets in the solar system, it looks like a new ninth planet really does exist, helping us hold on to the hope that the very educated mother will, after all, serve nine of something.

There could be a ninth planet. “Every time we take a picture, there is this possibility that Planet Nine exists in the shot,” says Surhud More to The Washington Post. More is an astronomer at the University of Tokyo. Nobody else has been able to spot it so far.

This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. The planet is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side. Image: Caltech

An artist's rendition shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. The planet is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side.
Image courtesy: Caltech

There has been evidence in the past that points at the existence of a “ghost planet” hiding in our solar system, beyond Pluto, but in a very different orbit. This orbit is tilted at an angle to the plane of our solar system.

The whole idea, however, that a Planet Nine exists, came in 2014 when a planetoid was discovered in the far-ends of our solar system, one that orbited the Sun. It was predicted later that the planetoid weighs approximately 20 Earth masses (20 times the mass of our planet) and follows an elliptical orbit which is about as much as 1,000 times more distant from the sun than Earth is.

Trying to get a look at the planet has been tough because it is 600 astronomical units away from us. An astronomical unit or AU is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. One AU is 149,598,000 kilometres and by simple math, this means that 600 AU is 89,75,88,00,000 kilometres away. In short, it is really, really far.

NASA had also released a statement about how far Planet Nine is, saying that it may be 20 times further from the Sun than Neptune is.

There is enough evidence and research — and some speculation — to suggest the existence of Planet Nine, so much so that even if it weren’t there, it will be a difficult fact to digest. NASA knows that “it is now harder to imagine our solar system without a Planet Nine than with one."

Here’s hoping that elementary science textbooks will soon be rewritten.✌️


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