Only one place left in the Solar System to search for the ninth planet

A recently published study in The Astronomical Journal continues the search for the elusive ninth planet, also known as Planet X. This is a hypothetical object that probably orbits in the outer orbit of the Solar System, far beyond the orbit of the dwarf planet Pluto. 

Illustration of a hypothetical ninth planet in the Solar System. Illustration: Live Science

The aim of this study was to narrow down the search area for the possible location of Planet X, which, in turn, may help to better understand the structure and evolution of our Solar System. 

Dr. Mike Brown, a famous astronomer and the lead author of the study, notes: “We are continuing to try to systematically cover all of the regions of the sky where we predict Planet Nine to be. Using data from Pan-STARRS allowed us to cover the largest region to date.”

Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) is a joint astronomical observation system located in Hawaii and funded by the United States Air Force. The scientists used data from Data Release 2 (DR2) to narrow down the area of the possible location of the ninth planet, eliminating about 78% of the previous candidates. The researchers also provided new estimates for the hypothetical distance of the ninth planet from the Sun and its mass — about 500 AU and 6.6 Earth masses.

Regarding further research, Brown notes that the LSST (Legacy Survey of Space and Time) astronomical study is promising. This astronomical study, which is now planned as a 10-year program to study the southern sky and will be conducted at the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile, which is currently under active construction. LSST’s goals include the detection of near-Earth asteroids and minor planetary bodies in the Solar System, but also include deep space exploration. They include the study of the properties of dark matter and dark energy and the evolution of the Milky Way galaxy. Of course, the plans include the search for the ninth planet. Finding this elusive planet is important not only for understanding our own Solar System, but also for expanding our knowledge of planetary systems in general.

Earlier, we reported on how the ninth planet could still be hiding in the Solar System.

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