After centuries of mysteries related to its existence, Planet X might have been discovered. At least, this is what researchers operating the ALMA telescope in Chile are hoping.
On Tuesday, astronomers have announced the discovery of two large objects – the most distant objects ever observed in our solar system. Two different research papers, one for each of the objects, have been published for reviewing on arXiv, a research-sharing website and also submitted to the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal.
Up to this moment, neither of them has been peer-reviewed or published. Unfortunately, both of them are based on very limited observations which make them seem unreliable. Astronomers commenting on arXiv are being skeptical about the chances of discovering significant objects so far away and especially about the suggestion that one of them might be Planet X.
However, the researchers admit they are not sure about the nature of the observed objects. They argue that one of them might be a large asteroid, an undiscovered planet or a brown dwarf (an object which is bigger than a planet but smaller than a star).
Regarding the other objects, the researchers say it might be a “Super Earth” close to Alpha Centauri, even more distant than Pluto or it might also be a brown dwarf.
However, astronomer Mike Brown from Cal Tech, the one who “killed” Pluto in 2005 is one of the most skeptical prominent figures. Just like many others, he has been looking for Planet X for many years and says he would be really happy to see it discovered but he’s more than sure this is not it.
According to Brown, finding Planet X using ALMA telescope would be like finding the needle in the haystack. Researchers are basing their research on only two little blips with a distance of 6 months from one another, which is very limited data.
Planet X is the name given to what astronomers think should be the ninth planet in our solar system. It only exists in theory, based on the measured irregularities in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus, which might be caused by an undiscovered planet influencing their course.
Since the 19th century astronomers claim they have found Planet X but none of them have been able to prove that until now. For almost 80 years, astronomers thought that Pluto was Planet X, until 2005 when Brown brought evidence that Pluto is not a planet.
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