Courtesy of Caltech The suspected orbit of Planet Nine that might exist in the Kuiper Belt is shown along with other distant objects.
Astronomer Michael Brown and astrophysicist Konstantin Batygin, both professors at the California Institute of Technology, have after years of observations completed a study postulating that an unknown new planet might exist beyond the orbit of Neptune.
According to the study, which is to be published in a future edition of “The Astronomical Journal,” Brown and Batygin used the Subaru Telescope on Maunakea to observe the movements of several objects in the Kuiper Belt, a band of various icy celestial objects outside of Neptune’s orbit.
Nearly 20 years ago, certain objects in the Kuiper Belt were found to have strange orbits clustered together that could only be explained by an unknown massive object influencing them, although that did not necessarily suggest the existence of a ninth planet.
Although Terai said none of the observations revealed Planet Nine, by tracking 11 additional objects in the Kuiper Belt, Brown and Batygin have 99.6% confidence that the objects’ strange movements are not the result of some cosmic fluke and are caused by a yet-unseen large object.
Terai said confirming the existence of a ninth planet would have significant impacts on the existing models of how the solar system was formed, and would raise questions such as how the planet was formed in the first place, how it ended up so far from the Sun, and how it has influenced the movements of other celestial objects over the eons