A mysterious new planet may be spotted in the solar system

This is based on the analysis of telescope archives containing 250,000 point sources.

Possible evidence for a mysterious planet up to 10 times the size of Earth, with a distant orbit around the Sun, has been unveiled by Imperial College London professor of astrophysics, Michael Rowan-Robinson. With the aim of proving – or ruling out – the existence of another large planet beyond Neptune, the British scientist decided to conduct a new analysis of the data collected by the infrared astronomical satellite (IRAS) in 1983.

The astronomer examined some 250,000 point sources detected by the telescope, which took a far infrared reading of 96% of the sky. After analyzing the data, keeping in mind the hypothetical size and distance of the planet, “at the very edge of the survey,” he made out a moving object that the satellite had detected three times, RT reported. .

The candidate for Planet 9 is believed to be up to five times the mass of Earth, according to IRAS data. Its orbital distance is estimated to be about 225 times that of our planet, or about 33.7 billion kilometers (20.9 billion miles) from the Sun.

If the enigmatic object did indeed circle the Sun at such a distance, it would be extremely cold and it wouldn’t reflect much sunlight, making it even more elusive and harder to find. While the latest study is not a clear detection, it could be useful as a guide for where exactly to look for the new planet, the astronomer concluded.

“Given the great interest of the Planet 9 hypothesis, it would be interesting to check whether an object with the proposed parameters and in the proposed sky region, is incompatible with planetary ephemeris,” he wrote in the preprint article, accepted for publication. in the monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

A debate about the possible existence of an unknown planet in our solar system has been going on for decades. With no concrete evidence found, there has been speculation about its presence, primarily based on the gravitational clustering of objects within the confines of the system. Several years ago, a suggestion was made that a group of icy objects that lie beyond Neptune’s orbit in the Kuiper Belt may be under the gravitational influence of a mysterious body. bigger, maybe planet 9. The claim was not based on observation, but on modeling.

Currently, the eighth and furthest known planets from the Sun is Neptune. In the last century, Pluto, discovered in 1930, was considered the ninth planet, but a controversial vote at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006 formally excluded it from the “planets” of the solar system and reclassified it as dwarf planet. .

Arline J. Mercier