Sorry, it's not Pluto

By Maria Yagoda
Updated January 20, 2016 02:25 PM
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Credit: R. Hurt (IPAC)/Caltech

There is new evidence suggesting that our solar system contains a massive ninth planet.

While astronomers have long suspected the existence of a so-called “Planet X,” a new study from two Caltech scientists offers calculations that support the ninth planet’s existence. (One of the scientists, Mike Brown, is responsible for the devastating demotion of Pluto to a “dwarf planet,” leaving the solar system with only eight planets.)

Brown and his colleague, Konstantin Batygin, studied the behavior of a cluster of objects in the outer rings of the solar system, leading them to discover the forces of an unseen body – the ninth planet. This planet, nicknamed Planet Nine, is estimated to have a mass 10 times that of the Earth and is thought to be located 20 times farther from the sun (on average) than Neptune, according to a Wednesday statement from Brown.

“This would be a real ninth planet,” Brown said. “There have only been two true planets discovered since ancient times, and this would be a third. It’s a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that’s still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting.”