Scientists at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they had uncovered evidence of a giant planet existing beyond Pluto in the outer solar system.
The planet, nicknamed Planet Nine, is estimated to have a mass approximately 10 times larger than Earth’s and an orbit 20 times farther from the sun. It is estimated that it would take Planet Nine between 10,000 to 20,000 years to orbit the sun just one time.
Brown and co-researcher Konstantin Batygin came to their conclusion after examining the bizarre orbits of of more than a dozen distant objects in the Kuiper Belt. “Basically it shouldn’t happen randomly,” Brown explained. “So we thought something else must be shaping these orbits.”
The researchers theorized on what could be causing the orbit and plugged a massive planet into a simulation which seemed to produce results similar to that of what they observed.
“Still, I was very skeptical,” Batygin said. “I had never seen anything like this in celestial mechanics.”