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Look Hard, Stargazers: There May Be a 9th Planet in Our Solar System

Look Hard, Stargazers: There May Be a 9th Planet in Our Solar System
Image credit: Pexels

There could be a ninth planet floating around in our solar system -- we just can’t see it yet.

You’ll just have to take two of the world’s leading astronomers’ word for it. A mysterious, Neptune-sized heavenly body likely lurks deep in the dark reaches of our cosmic boonies, so say CalTech stargazers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown.

The pair haven't directly observed the potential planet. Rather, they surmised its existence based on the activity of dwarf planets in the vicinity.

Related: The Power of Planning: NASA's Pluto Flyby Was Epic and Amazing

Brown, mind you, is the scientist principally behind the demotion of poor Pluto, which held heavenly court as the ninth planet until 2006, when it was downgraded to dwarf-planet status. This new potential planetary neighbor’s unofficial name -- which is Planet Nine for the moment -- suggests that it could possibly fill Pluto’s shoes.

That is if it really qualifies as a planet, which is still very actively up for debate.

“It was probably the runt of the family,” Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science told the Los Angeles Times of the gaseous giant.

He and other astronomers suspect that Planet Nine, believed to orbit the sun every 15,000 years or so, might have made its home nearer to the center of our solar system had it not perhaps been deterred by gas or pinballed off course by a larger gasball, such as Jupiter.  

Related: Stephen Hawking: Humans Ruined the Earth and Must Escape to Space