Researchers find possible ninth planet beyond Neptune
Updated: 2016-01-21 10:57
An artist's rendering shows the distant view from "Planet Nine" back towards the sun, in this handout photo provided by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, January 20, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.- The solar system may host a ninth planet that is about 10 times bigger than Earth and orbiting far beyond Neptune, according to research published on Wednesday.
Computer simulations show that the mystery planet, if it exists, would orbit more than 50 times farther from the sun than Earth, astronomers with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena said.
So far, the planet has not been observed directly.
"It's a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that's still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting," said astronomer Mike Brown, whose discovery was published in this week's Astronomical Journal.
Brown and astronomer Konstantin Batygin, also at Caltech, initially were skeptical that such a large planet would have eluded detection.
But they modeled the hypothetical planet's gravitational effects on several known bodies in the region and found a near-perfect match.