Planet Nine is a theoretical world hiding somewhere in the region of space beyond the Kuiper Belt at the far end of the solar system. Believed to be the ninth planet from the Sun, no one has ever seen Planet Nine, but the planet is theorised to be 10 times bigger than Earth. An unseen planet this big would explain why some Kuiper objects appear to clump together as if experiencing the gravity of a large planet. Planet Nine was first proposed in 2016 by astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and direct observations are yet to be made.
But Caltech Profess Michael Brown, who originally came up with the Planet Nine theory, is certain astronomers are not too far off from discovering the planet.
And in a shocking announcement on live radio, Professor Brown has revealed he is pretty optimistic about knowing Planet Nine’s orbit of the Sun.
Speaking to Linda Moulton Howe of Coast to Coast AM, the Planet Nine researcher said: “If we knew exactly where it was, we wouldn’t have to be inferring, we would just go look at it and say: ‘Look there it is.’
“So, we don’t know exactly where it is because all we know is its long-term gravitational effect on these other bodies.
“We know its orbit pretty well and we know the orbit pretty well because of all these computer simulations, which show if it’s not massive enough it doesn’t affect the outer solar system.
“If it’s too massive, it destroys the outer solar system. If it’s not tilted the way we think it’s tilted, it doesn’t tilt the objects the way they’re tilted.
“So, all these details we can infer from the detailed computer simulations we’ve been doing.”
On this orbit, there a moments when Planet Nine comes close to the solar system.
But even those approaches, Professor Brown said, are seven times the distance from the Sun to Neptune.
We know the orbit pretty well because of all these computer simulations
Michael Brown, Caltech
Because of the incredible distances involved, Planet Nine’s gravity does not have an impact on any other planet, least of all Earth.
Professor Brown said: “And it’s a little bit less massive than Neptune.
“So, having something less massive than Neptune seven times away, means that it’s something like one percent of the effect of Neptune.
“And Neptune hardly affects the Earth, so there’s nearly no effect at all and if there were an effect on the Earth or on the Earth’s orbit, it would be a lot easier to find because we have measurements of that.”
According to the astronomer, Planet Nine follows an elliptic orbit far beyond the fringes of the Kuiper Belt.
The Kuiper Belt itself is an area of space densely populated with rocky asteroids and other icy objects known as Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs).
The Kuiper Belt sits approximately 4,647,790,400 miles from the Sun.
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