The astronomer responsible for "kicking out" Pluto as a member of the solar system announced earlier this year that he and his colleague at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) found evidence of a huge, icy cosmic object lurking around the dark abyss of the outer solar system. They called this massive object "Planet Nine."
Caltech planetary scientist Mike Brown estimated that Planet Nine appears to be revolving around the sun on a super-elongated orbit, which would take 10,000 to 20,000 years to complete.
Although the idea of having a ninth planet – technically the eighth planet – is interesting, NASA clarified in February that the existence of Planet Nine is still theoretical and remains unproven.
Still, Brown and his colleagues are not giving up.
Now, thanks to a peculiar new object detected in the Kuiper Belt, Brown believes their case for the existence of Planet Nine has stronger pieces of supporting evidence.
Hey Planet Nine fans, a new eccentric KBO was discovered. And it is exactly where Planet Nine says it should be. pic.twitter.com/oZn0RDq8JF
— Mike Brown (@plutokiller) March 24, 2016
Hope For Planet Nine?
Planet Nine is estimated to be 10 times more massive than Earth, so scientists suppose that something as big would possess a gravitational force that could affect smaller objects floating around nearby.
This was something Brown and his colleague Konstantin Batygin identified and reported in their January paper.
Brown said they saw a strange signal in their data, indicating that something odd was happening in the outer solar system. In fact, all of the distant objects they detected were aligned in a strange way that shouldn't have typically happened.
"We worked through the mundane explanations, but none of them worked out," said Brown.
The duo had first detected six KBOs in a strange arrangement. Recently, they found a seventh KBO.
How did they discover the seventh KBO? The researchers used the Canada France Hawaii Telescope to perform the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS). The results were presented by Michele Bannister at the SETI Institute.
This seventh object seemed to have been forced into a strange orbit about 149 billion kilometers (92.5 billion miles) away from the sun – 75 times more distant than Pluto. This is where Planet Nine is expected to be located.
Brown has yet to write up his claims about the seventh KBO, so until then, the data should be treated as preliminary findings.