The following is an excerpt from Joel Achenbach and Rachel Feltman | January 20, 2016 | Thewashingtonpost.com |
Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it "Planet Nine."
Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, estimates the planet's mass as five to 10 times that of the Earth. But the authors, astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, have not observed the planet directly.
Instead, they have inferred its existence from the motion of recently discovered dwarf planets and other small objects in the outer solar system. Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet – a "massive perturber." The astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.
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