Is There a Ninth Planet in Our Solar System?
Last week, two scientists announced evidence of a planet roughly the size of Neptune with a mass 10 times that of Earth's and a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium. The planet is so far away that its year would last 10,000 to 20,000 Earth-years.
The planet has not actually been seen yet, though. Rather, two planetary scientists, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology, theorized that it exists, DNews' Trace Dominguez and Amy Shira Teitel explained in the video below.
Interestingly enough, it was Mike Brown's discovery of the dwarf planet Eris that caused the International Astronomical Union to demote Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet in 2006. So the researcher responsible for the formal change from nine to eight planets a decade ago is now saying there might actually be a ninth planet.
Batygin and Brown inferred so-called Planet X or Planet Nine's existence from an unusual cluster of six objects orbiting beyond Neptune in the Kuiper Belt. They argued that the only explanation for this unusual cluster is the gravitational pull of a massive planet.
"This might sound like a lot of sketchy guess work, but it's actually a viable method of finding planets that has worked before," Teitel said. It's the same way that astronomers discovered the existence of Neptune, Teitel explained. Once they had mathematical models showing where to look for Neptune, it wasn't long before they spotted the planet with a telescope.
However, finding this new planet may not be quite as easy, given how much further away from Earth it is than Neptune. "As researchers continue to refine their simulations, they'll learn more about Planet 9's orbit and influence on the distant solar system," Dominguez said.
"In the meantime," Teitel said, "astronomers are going to start sky hunting."
Watch the video from DNews here:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
A coalition of conservation groups and others announced Thursday that a historic number of comments and petitions of support have been submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior in support of Bears Ears National Monument. Despite the entirely inadequate 15-day comment period ending on May 26, more than 685,000 comments in support of Bears Ears National Monument have been collected.
By Lena Moffitt
An oil tanker in Mead, Colorado exploded, killing one and injuring three on Thursday. Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the explosion.
In an unusual procedural move, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers filed motions Thursday requesting the court's permission to withdraw from the Juliana v. US climate lawsuit, brought by 21 young people. The associations are following the lead of the National Association of Manufacturers, who filed a similar motion to withdraw on May 22.
Twenty-two GOP senators sent a letter Thursday urging Donald Trump to pull out of the Paris agreement. They argued remaining in the deal could "upend" the administration's ability "to fulfill its goal of rescinding the Clean Power Plan."
By Cheryl Johncox
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected on Thursday Energy Transfer Partners' request to resume horizontal directional drilling at two sites for its Rover fracked gas pipeline. This rejection comes after numerous leaks into Ohio's wetlands, and Clean Air and Clean Water act violations. FERC has halted the process at only eight locations of the 32 where drilling is taking place under Ohio's wetlands and streams.
By Nadia Prupis
A majority of people in eight countries say they are ready to change their lifestyles if it would prevent climate catastrophe, a survey on global threats released Wednesday found.
Bill Maher is sick of billionaires' obsession with Mars, more like "Mars-a-Lago," he said.
In a new animation produced by ATTN:, the popular talk show host of Real Time, discusses the perils of our planet, including how "climate change is killing us."