There has been another setback in the quest for our planetary system’s mysterious Planet Nine, which is thought to be lurking buried in the clouds of rock and ice well past Neptune’s orbit.
To see whether they might find any traces of Planet Nine in the sky, scientists combed through six years’ worth of telescopic data and reported their findings in The Astrophysical Journal. Despite the fact that the researchers found over 3,000 potential planets, none of them could be conclusively classified.
A failed hunt does not deny the presence of the hypothesized planet, but it does help scientists to limit the location and characteristics of such a planet. In the end, the analysis encompasses just around 10% to 20% of said planet’s conceivable places in the sky.
Scientists have discovered an unusual group of six stony bodies past Neptune’s orbit. The most remote portions in their trajectories were found to be far further from our sun than their closest data points. The researchers determined that the gravitational attraction of an unknown planet five to ten times the scale of Earth may accommodate the irregularity in the trajectories of those objects.
Several groups have unsuccessfully attempted to discover that fictional universe nearly a decade after. The greatest challenge in the search for Planet Nine is indeed the vast distance associated. Whereas Pluto circles the sun at a distance of 30 to 50 AU, the researchers of the 2016 paper calculated that Planet Nine may very well be 400 to 800 AU faraway — so incredibly distant that sunshine may not touch the planetary body at all.
The hunt for Planet Nine will keep going in the future with much more precise instruments, like the Simons Observatory located in Chile’s Atacama Desert, which is now under development.