Now that Pluto has been downgraded to a dwarf planet, does our solar system have to hobble on with just eight real planets?
Two California Institute of Technology researchers think they have the answer.
They have been busy looking for a ninth true planet at the edge of the solar system.
The scientists said Wednesday they finally have “good evidence” for what they call Planet Nine, AP reported.
The gas giant is thought to be almost as big as Neptune, now the outermost planet, and orbiting billions of kilometers beyond its path.
Planet Nine is far away enough to take 10,000-20,000 years to circle the Sun, they said.
The planet hasn’t been spotted yet. The scientists base their findings on mathematical and computer modeling and expect telescopes to pick it up within five years or less.
The pair reported on their research Wednesday in the Astronomical Journal because they want people to help them look for it.
“We could have stayed quiet and quietly spent the next five years searching the skies ourselves and hoping to find it,” astronomer Mike Brown, who worked with planetary scientist Konstantin Batygin, was quoted as saying.
“But I would rather somebody find it sooner than me find it later.”
Brown is the “Pluto killer” who helped lead the campaign to downgrade Pluto in 2006.
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