You have undoubtedly overheard scientists and laypeople debating the number of planets in our solar system. People have been demanding that Pluto should be rehabilitated as a planet since it was demoted from planet status in 2006 and lowered to a “dwarf planet.”
However, there is a less well-known argument regarding how many planets there are in the solar system: if there is a mysterious as-yet-undiscovered planet dubbed Planet Nine out there.
Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, both of Caltech, came up with the notion after looking well beyond Pluto’s orbit in the solar system. The Kuiper Belt is a disc of ice and debris that stretches beyond Neptune’s orbit and contains many dwarf planets.
The researchers discovered that the orbits of some of the things in this faraway area, known as trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), seemed to cluster in unusual patterns. They speculated that the grouping may be caused by the existence of a massive planet that is too far away for us to see. Planet Nine was the name given to this fictitious object.
Many people have been fascinated by the concept of Planet Nine, sometimes known as Planet X, since then. There have been several speculations concerning the object, including the possibility that it is larger and closer than previously believed (through Caltech) or that it is a small black hole (via arXiv).
Though most astronomers view Planet Nine with reasonable skepticism, these concepts are entertaining and fascinating. After all, we have never seen such a planet firsthand, and we only have circumstantial proof that it exists.
Even NASA, on the other hand, is willing to consider the idea of Planet Nine. According to the agency’s “Hypothetical Planet X” website, it may be ten times the mass of Earth and orbit so far out that a year would last between 10,000 and 20,000 Earth years. However, the specialists it cites are quick to remind out that the planet is still only a notion.
“As a planetary scientist, and for all of us,” Jim Green, head of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said, “the idea of a new planet is surely an intriguing one” (via NASA).
“However, this is not the finding or detection of a new planet.” It is too soon to declare for sure whether or not there is a Planet X. This is an early forecast based on limited data and modeling. It is the beginning of a process that might culminate in something fantastic.”
Brown and Batygin, the theory’s creators, are still looking for further evidence to see whether there is a planet outside our solar system. Brown said, “I would love to discover that.” “However, I would be content if it was discovered by someone else.” That is why this document is being published. We hope that this inspires others to seek.”