Planet Nine

Good morning EUROAVIAns,
in today’s FactFriday we talk about Planet Nine!

How many planets are in our Solar System? If you answered eight, we’re sorry to inform you that, as shocking as it sounds, there might be a ninth planet out there! No, we’re not talking about Pluto (sigh), but of an undiscovered planet hiding far beyond it. 

Astronomers studying the Kuiper Belt have noticed that some of the dwarf planets and other small, icy objects tend to follow orbits that cluster together. The analysis of these orbits led to mathematical evidence suggesting that there may be a “Planet X” deep in the solar system. The gravity of this potential planet might explain the unusual orbits of those Kuiper objects. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed “Planet Nine,” could have a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbit about 20 times farther from the Sun on average compared to Neptune. It may take between 10,000 and 20,000 Earth years to make one full orbit around the Sun.

It is surely too early to say with certainty that there’s a so-called Planet X, as the current predictions are based on modeling from limited observations. However, it’s the start of a process that could lead to an exciting result. Finally, if the predicted world is found, the name must be approved by the International Astronomical Union.