The US scientists have announced that a previously unknown giant planet may have been discovered lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. Nicknamed Planet Nine, the object has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and follows a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the distant solar system. It would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the Sun. The report was published in the Astronomical Journal. Researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown say have not yet observed the object directly. Rather, they found it through mathematical modeling and computer simulations.
The presumed planet has about 5,000 times the mass of Pluto, and scientists believe its gravity has affected the motion of dwarf planets in the outer solar system, essentially perturbing celestial bodies in the field of icy objects and debris beyond Neptune known as the Kuiper Belt.
A host of powerful telescopes are currently hunting for Planet Nine, including the twin 10-meter telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Subaru Telescope on Maunakea in Hawaii.
Learn Inclusively – Improve Your Vocabulary
- Lurk means be or remain hidden so as to wait in ambush for someone or something.
- Simulation means the imitative representation of the functioning of a system.
- Celestial means positioned in or relating to the sky
- Debris means scattered pieces of rubbish or remains.
- Perturb means make (someone) anxious or unsettled.