Scientists at Caltech believe they have confirmed the existence of a massive and icy ninth planet in our solar system. The planet was first speculated upon in 2014 paper which the Caltech team had set out to disprove. Via the Washington Post:
They have inferred its existence from the motion of recently discovered dwarf planets and other small objects in the outer solar system. Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet – a “massive perturber.” The astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.
Telescopes on at least two continents are searching for the object, which on average is 20 times farther away than the eighth planet, Neptune. If “Planet Nine” exists, it’s big. Its estimated mass would make it about two to four times the diameter of the Earth, distinguishing it as the fifth-largest planet after Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But at such extreme distances, it would reflect so little sunlight that it could evade even the most powerful telescopes.
Confirmation of its existence would reconfigure the models of the solar system. Pluto, discovered in 1930, spent three-quarters of a century as the iconic ninth planet. Then, a decade ago, Pluto received a controversial demotion, in large part because of [astronomer Michael] Brown. Brown, who tweets under the handle @plutokiller and who wrote the book “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming,” said now may be the time to rewrite the textbooks yet again.
Conclusive proof of the find would require naming the planet. I’m down with Planet Claire. I know she came from there.
(Tipped by JMG reader BK)