Ever since the team of Mike “Pluto Killer” Brown and Konstantin Batygin noted an anomaly in the outer solar system, Earthlings have been waiting on pins and needles to see if we have nine planets once again. The anomaly in question being the convergence of orbits of several trans-Neptunian objects, like Sedna and VP 113 “Biden”, suggesting they’re under the gravitational influence of something huge!
In a couple of weeks, Brown and Batygin will be hogging the Subaru telescope in Hawaii for six days hoping to find our solar system’s long-lost sibling. Where is it? Mike Brown gave a few clues to Patt Morrison at the Los Angeles Times:
We have done a pretty good job of narrowing down where in the sky it should be. It’s pretty close to the constellation Orion, which is kind of fun because that’s a constellation everybody knows. If people get up early in the morning this time of year, they can see Orion coming up and they can think, Planet Nine is right around there somewhere.
We’re waiting for another couple of weeks before it’s up high enough in the sky that we can start observing it and then we’re going to start systematically sweeping that area until we find it.
Click the map for a better view.
Despite tipping the scales at ten times Earth’s mass and potentially two to four times Earth’s diameter, spotting Planet Nine will be like finding a needle in the cosmic haystack. Outshone by Pluto 10,000 times over and more than 150 billion kilometers from the sun, you’re not going to glimpse it with any amateur telescope.
Still there’s an outside chance our solar system’s family will be whole again by the holidays. As for naming this object, Brown and Batygin have been calling it George, Jehoshaphat, and Phattie. But Nibiru might be the best fit considering its highly elliptical orbit and proximity to the inner edge of the Oort Cloud, which is made up of icy objects and comets. Finding, and tracking, Planet Nine (or Nibiru) could help humanity keep an eye out for incoming icy impactors that could send us all back to the Stone Age.
You may also enjoy:
- Has This New Discovery By Astronomers Confirmed there is a ‘Planet X’?
- The Planet Next Door: Astronomers Find Earth-Like Planet Orbiting in the Habitable Zone of the Star Closest to Us
Gratitude to Joe Stieber for his assistance, and finding the star map.