Caltech researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown have presented evidence of the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system. The new planet’s mass and orbit would explain the behavior of distant objects in the Kuiper Belt. Its mass is estimated to be between that of Earth and Neptune, and its orbit is estimated to take a 20,000 year loop around the sun.
Batygin said in the announcement,
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. For the first time in over 150 years, there is solid evidence that the solar system’s planetary census is incomplete.
The planet has not yet been discovered, but the researchers do believe telescopes on Earth are capable of finding it. Brown said,
I would love to find it. But I’d also be perfectly happy if someone else found it. That is why we’re publishing this paper. We hope that other people are going to get inspired and start searching.
images via Caltech