There is a 90% chance that there is Planet Nine

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The evidence of a large invisible world at the outer end of the Solar System continues to grow and the possibility that there is a large unknown planet, dubbed the planet Nine, on the edge of the Solar System, is over 90%, according to Konstantin Batygin, a California-based theoretical astrophysicist of the Institute of Technology (Caltech, USA), one of the leading "prospectors" of the hypothetical new world of the solar system.

"Planet Nine is really the only valid explanation for all the things we observe," said the scientist Space.com, which believes that the existing evidence is quite solid.

In January 2016, Batygin and Mike Brown, also from Caltech, attempted to characterize the planet, estimating that it is on average 10 times more massive than the Earth and orbiting around 600 astronomical units (AU) of the sun. So far, astronomers have seen 14 bodies in Kuyper's belt that bear the imprint of a great troublemaker, said Batygin. Basically, the elongated portions of the highly elliptical orbits of the objects point in the same direction, in a way predicted by the Planet Nine models.

The odds that this configuration was developed by chance alone are less than 0.1%, according to the scientists, who consider the rest of possible insufficient explanations, such as the one proposing that the grouping was due to the combined combinations of many small objects in the band of Kuiper, the ring of frozen bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune: for Batygin, an "automodulator" of the Kuiper belt would look very different from the real one.

A recent study suggests that the entire Kuiper belt (without Planet Nine) does not retain more than 2% of the land mass, which is not enough to model the bodies' orbits in the observed way.

Where is the planet Nine?

In relation to the failed search to date with the telescopes available, this scientist said: "If we do not find it in the next five years, the LSST will definitely give the final word on Planet Nine." It refers to the Great Synoptic Tracking Telescope (LSST), which is under construction in Chile and will start operating in 2022.

"We believe that the planet is distant hundreds of AU, even 1,000 UA, something as big as Neptune would be weaker than what most telescopes could see," says astronomer Scott Sheppard.

Beatriz de Vera

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