A planet four times the size of Earth, has a mass 10 times greater than our planet, but has never been seen- is it real?
Planet Nine (or Planet X as it’s called by some defiant that Pluto should still be considered a full planet) is a mysterious, hypothetical “super earth” in the far outer solar system with a highly elliptical orbit and an orbital period of approximately 15,000 years. While it has not yet been found, astronomers were pretty confident it’s out there somewhere. So, they’re asking the public for help.
Researchers from the Australian National University have asked amateur astronomers to help them search the skies and see if they can locate Planet Nine. In exchange, the person who finds the planet gets to name it. (Sounds like a pretty good deal!)
"We have the potential to find a new planet in our solar system that no human has ever seen in our two-million-year history," said astrophysicist Brad Tucker of the Australian National University Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Interested stargazers haven’t been looking up to find the planet though, rather, they’re trying to find it in their computers (clever)! Last March 27, the Zooniverse website posted photos of the southern sky and since then, more than 1,300 individuals have been studying those photos thoroughly, trying their luck in spotting the mysterious Planet Nine.
This project is also expected to lead to the discovery of other heavenly bodies other than the said mysterious planet. “People can then click on those dots that will auto-generate and calculate its orbit trajectory, which will tell us to go look at it through another telescope to go, is it really there, and what is it? We’re going to find thousands of new asteroids and probably a few dwarf planets, too.” Tucker said.
However, while you can name the planet, there are still few guidelines to follow. "My personal vote is not for another Greek god, we have enough of those," Tucker said. "I do not want Planet McPlanetface. As much as I like Boaty McBoatface, we won't allow that as an option."
Well, if you get to find it, you know what to do! (But please name it Nibiru)