The Monitor Daily (U.S.) – Given away by its gravitational signature Planet 9 remains hidden for the moment, with astronomers hoping to catch a glimpse of it in the following five years. Thorough analysis of objects in the Kuiper Belt suggested a gigantic planet could influence their stance.
Working with the sparse clues, researchers with the California Institute of Technology created mathematical and computer models to gain deeper insight on Planet 9. Planet 9 might be a disputed name for yet another inhabitant of the solar system. However, as Pluto’s and Erin’s status remains uncertain, the hypothesized gaseous giant at the far reach of the solar system could be stuck with the label.
Provided Planet 9 is actually spotted and imaged accordingly. The existence of Planet 9 has been announced on January 20th in The Astronomical Journal. Indirect evidence pinpointed by computer models and a host of objects in the Kuiper Belt suggest Planet 9 could be 10 times the mass of Earth. At the same time, the ninth planet of the solar system orbits the Sun at a distance 600 times that of Earth. As such, given away by its gravitation signature Planet 9 remains hidden.
Nonetheless, how can such a massive presence in the icy belt just beyond Neptune’s ring remain unseen? According to Mike Brown with the California Institute of Technology, Planet 9 shouldn’t be too faint. Both Brown and Konstantin Batygin, lead authors on the paper, agree that Planet 9 is sufficiently bright for a large part of its orbit that it should have been spotted by now.
At the closest point to the Sun, the elusive ninth planet of the solar system would be anywhere between 200 and 300 astronomical units (AU). At the farthest, Planet 9 should be 600 to 1,200 AU from the Sun. As the existence of the gaseous giant has been hypothesized only recently, Planet 9 remains hidden somewhere at the far reach of the solar system.
At this point, the mysterious planet should be further from the Sun. Nonetheless, it should be sufficiently illuminated to be spotted provided a sufficiently large area of the sky is under constant surveillance. Mark Brown argues that powerful telescopes could be a blessing in the process. Yet, even amateur astronomers with a powerful telescope could be the lucky finders of Planet 9.
Given away by its gravitational signature Planet 9 remains hidden. Even if it were currently at the furthest distance from the Sun, its brightness should be a 24th or 25th magnitude. The higher the number on the brightness scale, the fainter an object is. Among the best fitted equipment to find Planet 9, California Institute of Technology astronomers mentioned the Subaru Telescope (Hawaii).
The ninth planet of the solar system is out there somewhere. If Mark Brown and Konstantin Batygin are right and the hypothesized planet is spotted in the following five years, the moment would pinpoint a historical landmark. Planet 9 would be the first planet in our solar system discovered in the past 150 years.
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