Astronomers might have found the mysterious Planet Nine. Michael Rowan-Robinson, a scientist at the Imperial College London, analyzed observations made by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) back in 1983.
In a new study, which is not peer-reviewed yet, Rowan-Robinson suggests that shots from the telescope could actually turn out to point out a ninth planet orbiting the Sun. While it sounds very exciting, chances are still very slim.
Gravitational pull from a body of huge mass
“Given the poor quality of the IRAS detections, at the very limit of the survey, and in a very difficult part of the sky for far-infrared detections, the probability of the candidate being real is not overwhelming,” he wrote in the preprint.
“However, given the great interest of the Planet Nine hypothesis, it would be worthwhile to check whether an object with the proposed parameters and in the region of sky proposed, is inconsistent with the planetary [trajectories],” he wrote.
In 2016, two Caltech astronomers proposed that strangely behaving objects in the Kuiper Belt were getting affected by a gravitational pull of something that has a huge mass. They noted that a ninth planet, which is around 10 times the mass of our planet, could be causing these Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) to behave so erratically.
Does Planet Nine really exist?
Other theories suggest the object could be a black hole, while some believe it could be a cluster of much smaller objects. But extensive researches are yet to come up with proof that Planet Nine actually exists. If it does, it is very far away and doesn’t get much light from our Sun.
Now, Rowan-Robinson has suggested three-point sources, each of them found a month apart, picked from around 250,000 total sources found by IRAS. These sightings could hint at the existence of a single transient object, he suggested in his paper.
If Rowan-Robinson’s theory is correct, the planet would be around 3-5 times the mass of Earth, orbiting the Sun from a distance of 225 AU. Neptune orbits the Sun at around 30 astronomical units.