Planet Nine: Elusive planet might NOT exist after all says shock new research

For decades, scientists have theorised there is a ninth planet – what would have been the 10th were it not for the downgrade of Pluto to a dwarf planet – in our galactic neighbourhood. The planet, named Planet Nine, is believed to be five times bigger than Earth and 20 times farther out from the Sun than Neptune – the outer-most planet in the solar system.

There are a number of odd features in our solar system that would be explained by Planet Nine.

One is that the Kuiper Belt – a circumstellar disc full of icy asteroids, comets and dwarf planets which encompasses the solar system – orbits in the opposite direction to the planets within it.

Another is that if the planet is there, then it could explain why the solar system is slightly off balance.

In most star systems, the surrounding planets tend to rotate in line with their host.

However, in our solar system, the planets are at an angle of six degrees off its axis.

However, new research has found that there is little evidence for a ninth planet which exists passed the orbit of Neptune.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have studied data from the Dark Energy Survey, a visible and near-infrared survey conducted at an observatory in Chile, and found little evidence to support the idea of any “extreme trans-Neptunian objects”.

Pedro Bernardinelli, lead author of the paper and an astronomer at the University of Pennsylvania, told New Scientist: “We would not have formulated the Planet Nine idea if our data was the only data that existed.”

Mr Bernardinelli led another research back in March which found 139 large objects farther from the orbit of Neptune.

These objects were not big enough to be a planet, but if they were all in close proximity to one another, they could have the same gravitational effect as a large celestial body.

Samantha Lawler at the University of Regina, Canada, who was not involved in the study, told New Scientist: “As we’re finding more of these distant objects, the distribution starts to look more even.

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“It’s pretty bad for the idea of Planet Nine.”

However, Ms Lawler said the potential of there being a Planet Nine cannot be fully ruled out.

She continued: “The way that the Planet Nine hypothesis is constructed is that it’s completely impossible to falsify it — the only way to prove it’s not there is to search every square centimeter of the sky and not find it.”

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