View Full Version : Astronomers Find Theoretical Evidence for Distant Gas Giant Planet in Our Solar Syste

2016-Jan-21, 05:00 AM
The astronomer known worldwide for vigorously promoting the demotion of Pluto from its decades long perch as the 9th Planet, has now found theoretical evidence for a new and very distant gas giant planet orbiting at the far reaches of our solar system.
In a obvious reference to the planethood controversy, the proposed new planet is nicknamed ‘Planet Nine’ and its absolutely huge!
The planet has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and is believed to gaseous, like Uranus and Neptune, according to Mike Brown of Caltech, who became famous during the debate of Pluto’s planetary status, and announced the new finding today, Jan. 20, along with fellow Caltech researcher Konstantin Batygin.
The giant new planet orbits the sun some 20 times farther out than Neptune in the distant reaches of the Kuiper Belt. Neptune orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles.
Astronomers have been searching for decades for “Planet X” a large theorized planet beyond Pluto.
The theorized ‘Planet Nine’ travels in a highly elongated path that takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete just one full orbit around the sun, according to Caltech statement describing the work.
Caltech astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin coauthored a paper describing their work on the discovery of the existence of the proposed gas giant in the current issue of the Astronomical Journal.
The paper is titled; “EVIDENCE FOR A DISTANT GIANT PLANET IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM” and is available here.
"This would be a real ninth planet," says Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy, in a statement.
"There have only been two true planets discovered since ancient times, and this would be a third. It's a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that's still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting."
So far there is no confirmation of the existence of the planet.
It has not actually been observed but its existence is theorized through complex mathematical modeling and computer simulations.
Brown’s discovery of Eris, which orbits farther out than Pluto and is almost the same size as Pluto but smaller, sparked the IAU to demote Pluto to a dwarf planet in 2006.
Many planetary scientists, led by Alan Stern, do not agree with Pluto's demotion.
Stern is the Principal Investigator of NASA New Horizons probe which carried out history’s first flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015.
In the Astronomical Journal paper, Batygin and Brown “show how Planet Nine helps explain a number of mysterious features of the field of icy objects and debris beyond Neptune known as the Kuiper Belt.”
"Although we were initially quite skeptical that this planet could exist, as we continued to investigate its orbit and what it would mean for the outer solar system, we become increasingly convinced that it is out there," says Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science.
"For the first time in over 150 years, there is solid evidence that the solar system's planetary census is incomplete."
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Ken Kremer (http://www.kenkremer.com)
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