You might have a replacement, Pluto. There could be another planet in our solar system.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have found evidence in the outer solar system of an object that could be a real ninth planet.
Nicknamed Planet Nine, it “has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun” than Neptune. That means “it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun,” according to Caltech.
Researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown haven’t actually seen the planet, but other research helped lead them to conclude that there is one. Basically, they found that certain objects in the Kuiper Belt — the field of icy objects and debris beyond Neptune — had orbits that peculiarly pointed in the same direction.
Over time, mathematical modeling and computer simulation led them to the conclusion that a planet was exerting the gravity necessary to shape these orbits.
Brown says “there have only been two true planets discovered since ancient times, and this would be a third. It’s a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that’s still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting.”
Already, Caltech is pretty confident Planet Nine is large enough to rule out any debate about whether it’s a true planet — unlike Pluto, which got the boot in 2006