An artist’s conception of Planet 9, or Planet X, which scientists theorize orbits in the distant solar system. (Robin Dienel/ Carnegie Institution of Washington)
The race is on to find the the giant planet that several teams of astronomers are convinced orbits far out beyond Pluto, but is nonetheless still part of our solar system. Proving the existence of what has become known as Planet X, or Planet 9, would be a discovery for the textbooks and would inevitably change our understanding of how our solar system was formed.
The technology and luck needed to image the planet (if it truly is there) has thus far fallen short, but the discovery of another set of distant solar system objects traveling in surprising orbits has added to the indirect findings that point to a massive planet in the general vicinity.
The new findings come from Scott Shepard of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Chadwick Trujillo of Northern Arizona University, who provided some of the first intriguing inklings that this distant planet might exist in our solar system two years ago. That information was subsequently expanded by others into a full-blown theory.
“What we’ve just released is data on the first ...