Dec 15, 2018 | Updated: 09:51 PM EST

Scientists, Citizens Joined Forces In Pursuit Of Planet Nine: New Discoveries Fit Planet's Existence

Apr 06, 2017 02:06 AM EDT


The hunt for Planet Nine takes a new step since research at Caltech published the evidence of its existence last year. Campaigns to look for the planet involves citizen efforts from ordinary people which also made an intriguing find.

Mike Brown, an astronomer of Caltech who referred himself as "the man who killed Pluto", published the evidence of Planet Nine's existence and theorizing its presence based on perturbations of finding other outer solar system bodies. Stargazing citizens and scientists alike are in the pursuit to search further the existence of the planet.

According to ABC News, the idea of Planet Nine began in 2014. Since the downgrading of Pluto last 10 years ago and was kicked off as the ninth planet of the solar system, a team of astronomers lead by Mike Brown discovered many trans-Neptunian objects and other dwarf planets. However, the location and movement of these dwarf planets in the Kuiper belt puzzled scientists. They cannot explain this phenomenon by the objects known in the solar system - there must be something else that has not seen yet.

Most known objects of the Kuiper belt lie on one side with an orbit inclined to the solar system. But in this case, there is another source of gravity exists causing this inclined phenomenon. Scientist theorized that is must be that of Planet Nine. Likewise, other new discoveries, objects discovered after the prediction of Planet Nine also seems to fit within its existence.

A project called Planet Nine Search, enthusiasts and astronomers were given access to thousands of images taken by the ANU's SkyMapper telescope. Per Orlando Sentinel, their task is to find anything that appears to move against a motionless background of the distant stars.

The project gathered 21,000 volunteers who surveyed the 100,000 images of space and classified 5 million objects for three days to look for the possibility of the Planet Nine's location, a work that would take a Ph.D. student four years to complete. After the survey, the researchers ruled out 90 percent of the possibility of an unknown Neptune-size object.

However, there are four tiny dots of light appeared to be moving in the SkyMapper images. Researchers cannot identify the distance and the dimensions of the objects. More likely, the dot of lights could be Planet Nine, dwarf planets, asteroids or perhaps a mere blip in the data.

 Moreover, NASA and the University of California at Berkeley are also running a similar project involving citizen science effort to find Planet Nine. The project called Backyard Worlds through which planet seekers are given an access to archived images from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission.

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