Astronomers are collecting additional evidence that suggests Planet Nine is real

Planet hunting: Astronomers have discovered more evidence that a mysterious planet exists at the edge of our solar system. In their latest research, Konstantin Pugetin and his team of astronomers relied on a group of trans-Neptunian objects, which are objects located at the edge of the solar system beyond Neptune and orbiting the Sun at a distance more than 250 times that of Earth.

Astronomers typically don't look at these objects when searching for Planet Nine because they interact with Neptune's orbit.

But Bojetin Established To focus specifically on these objects to better understand their movements. They ran a series of simulations to see how other objects in the solar system, including nearby giant planets and tides in the Milky Way, affect their orbits.

A model that included Planet Nine, a planet long suspected to be located on the outskirts of our solar system, proved to be the best explanation for the observed behavior. This is not the only possible explanation, Pojetin said, but it is the best and represents the strongest statistical evidence to date that it actually exists.

Pluto was long considered the ninth planet in our solar system, but was reclassified as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union in 2006.

Astronomers could get more answers in the near future. The Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction in Chile, will use a powerful 3.2 gigapixel camera with a 5.1-foot-wide optical lens called the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) to scan the sky in hopes of unlocking more secrets of the universe. It should also provide astronomers with a better understanding of distant objects in our solar system, and help determine whether Planet Nine is fact or fiction.

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The new observatory is expected to begin operating in January 2025.

Pojetin and his team published their findings in a paper titled “Generation of low-inclination TNO objects and transits of Neptune by Planet Nine,” which is now available in an open source repository. arXiv.

Image credit: ZCH, Raymond McLintonnell

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