Ever since Pluto was demoted from the status of “planet,” our solar system has felt a little empty.
Fortunately, researchers at the California Institute of Technology now believe there is in fact a ninth planet in Earth’s neighbourhood after all. The key word here being “believe.”
The strange thing about this discovery is that scientists haven’t actually seen the planet at all. But they believe something big is out there because of gravitational irregularities in the Kuiper Belt (the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune).
What scientists noticed was that they couldn’t account for anomalies in the way certain objects and planets were moving around in that area. But when researchers used a simulation to add a new planet to the Kuiper Belt, suddenly those movements made sense. Which means scientists know something has to be there, they just haven’t actually located it yet.
In fact, researchers are hoping you can help out with that:
I'm going home now. If anyone finds Planet Nine while I'm asleep DM me, OK?
— Mike Brown (@plutokiller) January 21, 2016
It shouldn’t be too hard to find, given the planet is supposed to have 10 times the mass of Earth (we’re kidding, the solar system is huge–good luck with that). But the ironic part about this discovery is that it was made by the same people who demoted poor Pluto in the first place. Those who took away our ninth planet are now seeking to provide us with a new one.
We just have to find the damn thing first.