Astronomy is a very difficult field with our current level of technology. Sure, we may have improved our telescopes over the years, but we’re still using old technology and speculation to come up with most of our known facts. This is why it’s extremely important whenever anyone claims they’ve found a way to more accurately pinpoint something. A team of researchers from France used a logical approach, having the Planet Nine search area reduced by fifty percent.
Its existence predicted sometime last month, Planet Nine is assumed to be about ten times bigger than our home world. Astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin are the ones that used computer simulations and mathematical models to deduce the existence of the theorized planet.
Initially, it was used to explain the strange behavior of a group of small dwarf planets which were clumping past Neptune, somewhere in the field of debris and icy objects in the Kuiper Belt. Due to the lack of details astronomers have on it, it was estimated for the planet to be found in at least a decade.
This time period would be shortened if Cassini were to extend its mission. Instead of returning next year, it would have to return in 2020, but it would collect a lot more information that would help the experts find the supposed planet.
Fifty percent less work
Planet Nine, theoretically situated somewhere beyond Neptune, is supposed to take somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 years to orbit the Sun. Astronomers have no idea where it might be now, or at any point in the future, making it extremely difficult to detect and identify.
Looking at data from the Cassini spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Saturn, the team of French scientists excluded two very large zones from the search area. These two zones made up for about fifty percent of the total search area, making the discovery extremely important.
Using the data collected from Cassini and the theorized orbit proposed by American scientists, as well as that known behavior of other orbiting planets, the two French astronomers deduced that the ninth planet should be moving in a very elongated, lopsided oval around the sun.
Since it would be too far away from us to be detected while at its most distant, the team declared that it would be pointless to look for it there. So, the search area for the planet was reduced by fifty percent. This leaves us with one major problem.
A great many planets have been predicted with the same type of modeling over the years, but most of the predictions were mistaken. One of the few exceptions is Neptune, which was first suspected, and then discovered thanks to its gravitational pull on Uranus.
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