Have Scientists Finally Discovered the Ninth Planet?


It seemed as though there was a piece missing from the solar system when Pluto got declassified as a planet and reclassified as a dwarf planet instead. Since then, several other Pluto-like bodies have been discovered beyond the orbit of Neptune, but none that qualify as being a planet, unfortunately. However, all is not lost as more recently indirect evidence points to a Uranus-sized planet lurking near the outer edge of the solar system.

This possible ninth planet has an estimated mass of around 10 times that of the Earth, making it slightly smaller than Uranus. But indirect evidence is not enough to prove its existence. To do this, we need to be able to observe it. Experts estimate that the orbit of planet nine is around 700 times further than the Earth from the Sun, but due to its highly eccentric orbit, it would get really close – close enough that it may have already been observed.

The hypothetical orbit of planet 9 compared to known objects. Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

But being able to identify a planet like the one in question is difficult as would be very faint and its motion across the sky would be limited. However, with a project like Zooniverse‘s underway that problem soon became a distant memory with more than 60,000 people identifying over 5 million objects in the sky. From this data, four objects were found that were previously unknown and are all possible candidates for planet number nine.

So now it’s up to the experts to prove what these new observations actually are and if we do indeed have a new planet number nine or whether these are simply asteroids or more dwarf planets like that of Pluto.

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