The evidence of a great invisible world at the outer end of the Solar System continues to grow and the possibility that there is a great unknown planet, nicknamed planet Nine, at the edge of the Solar System, is over 90%, according to Konstantin Batygin, an astrophysicist Theorist of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech, USA), one of the main ‘seekers’ of the hypothetical new world of the solar system.
“Planet Nine really is still the only viable explanation for all the things we observe,” the scientist told Space.com, which considers that the evidence that exists is quite solid.
In January 2016, Batygin and Mike Brown, also from Caltech, attempted to characterize the planet, estimating that it is perhaps 10 times more massive than Earth and orbits around 600 astronomical units (AU) of the sun on average. So far, astronomers have now seen 14 bodies in the Kuyper Belt that bear the imprint of a big troublemaker, Batygin said. Basically, the elongated portions of the highly elliptical orbits of the objects point in the same direction, in a manner predicted by the models of Planet Nine.
The chances of such a configuration having been developed by chance alone are less than 0.1%, according to scientists, who consider the rest of possible explanations insufficient, such as the one that proposes that the grouping was due to the combined pulls of many small objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune: for Batygin, a Kuiper belt “self-modulator” would look very different from the real one.
A recent study suggests that the entire Kuiper Belt (without Planet Nine) does not hold more than 2% of the Earth’s mass, which is not enough to shape the orbits of bodies in the manner observed.
Where is the planet Nine?
In relation to the unsuccessful search to date with the telescopes available, this scientist said: “If we do not find it in the next five years, the LSST will definitely give the final word on Planet Nine.” It refers to the Great Synoptic Tracking Telescope (LSST), which is being built in Chile and will start operating in 2022.
“We believe that the planet is hundreds of AU away, even 1,000 AU, something as big as Neptune would be weaker than most telescopes could see,” says astronomer Scott Sheppard.