When the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decided to demote Pluto from the list of planets, the news did not go well with astronomical fans of the celestial body orbiting around the Sun every 248 years.
A new detection in 2016 piqued global interest when Mike Brown, a planetary science professor then part of the IAU that demoted Pluto, and Konstantin Batygi from the California Institute of Technology announced another body beyond Neptune that could become the ninth planet, the world had missed in Pluto for a decade.
The researchers have now assessed the orbit of Planet 9 and state that it is closer and brighter than initially expected. The study set to be published in The Astronomical Journal could bring the world closer to another planet that has remained elusive for centuries.
“We’ve had a pretty good general idea for years now, but we couldn’t really give a full assessment of the range of uncertainties for where in the sky Planet Nine might be, how massive it might be, and how bright it might be. Now we can,” the researchers said in a blogResearchers first found evidence of an object nearly six times the mass of Earth, 15 years after the demotion of a planet beyond Neptune. The assessment of a planet out there is based on its gravitational influence on a group of small objects in its vicinity.
“Hints of the possibility of a massive planet well beyond the orbit of Neptune have been emerging for nearly twenty years. The first clues came from the discovery of a population of distant eccentric Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) decoupled from interactions with Neptune,” the researchers said in the paper.