Scientists Present Evidence Of Hidden Giant Planet On Edge Of Solar System

By Andrew Bernier
Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 3:51pm
Updated: Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 3:12pm
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(Photo courtesy of Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC) via NPR)
An artist's rendering of the view from "Planet Nine."

The same scientists who helped declassify Pluto from planet status now claim a giant planet may be lurking on the fringe of our solar system. While they have evidence to back up this claim, they still haven’t seen it.

In a newly released paper in the Astronomical Journal, researchers at California Institute of Technology noticed the orbits of six large objects past Neptune mysteriously line up in about the same direction. They claim that in order to have objects of this size going in one direction, a massive object needs to orbit in the opposite direction.

Tentatively called "Planet Nine," the objected is estimated to be gaseous and two to four times the diameter of Earth. However, because of its distance from Earth, the planet would be very faint and its presence hasn’t been visually confirmed.

The researchers say if something moves twice as far from the sun, it gets about 16 times fainter. Their work suggests where the planet may be, and they expect many astronomers to start looking.