Astronomers May Have Found a Ninth Planet
By Nicole Rodriguez
In August of 2006, Pluto was downgraded to the status of dwarf planet, and our solar system was reduced to eight planets. However, a recent discovery in 2015 reveals that we may have another planet in our system.
Astronomers Konstatian Batygin and Mike Brown from the California Institute of Technology came up with a mathematical model that traced what could be the orbit of a new planet. Though it was not purely from observation, the model suggests that there may be a mass that is up to ten times larger than Earth. That’s about the size of Neptune. They believe that this would explain the strange orbits of five other objects in the Kuiper belt.
Astronomers are now calling this strange anomaly Planet X. Astronomers have been looking for any sign of an extreme trans-neptunian object, or eTNO’s for short. Objects referred to as eNTO’s are past Neptune’s orbit. There have been various discoveries, such as Sedna in 2003, an eTNO half the size of Pluto. Sedna also has a very odd orbit that should cause it to float into outer space yet it remains in the solar system. In fact, scientists have noticed a group of objects acting the same way. They believe that they are orbiting Planet X. There is some knowledge in the strategy, Neptune was found that way after certain objects were not found orbiting Uranus.
However, there are many arguments opposed to the existence of Planet X. Some astronomers believe that surveys of the eNTO’s are biased. They believe that because of the way they are conducted, we are more likely to notice eNTO’s with odd orbits and ignore ones with more normal ones.
There are many factors that contribute to finding the existence of Planet X, and astronomers are divided. Whether or not Planet X exists, the discoveries being found surrounding eNTO’s is surely beneficial to our understanding of our solar system and outer space.