APR 09, 2017 8:12 AM PDT

The Pros Call on Amateur Astronomers to Help Find Planet Nine

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Planet Nine is something that astronomers can’t do much more than predict at this point in time. While we’re pretty sure that it must exist out there somewhere, we currently have no physical evidence that it’s really there.

Planet Nine is turning out to be quite a difficult planet to find.

Image Credit: Caltech

We’ve predicted its existence because of the deformed orbital path of some of the outer planets in our Solar System. Specifically, there’s a strange tilt to the solar system's plane, and in order for this to happen, something big and with just the right gravitational influence would have had to influenced it.

Because astronomers currently have no leads on where Planet Nine is, or if it’s even out there, it’s quite a strong hypothesis. Nevertheless, they haven’t given up searching for it and are now calling on the public to help them find it.

Amateur stargazers are being welcomed by Australian National University astronomers to help look at images robotically taken with space imaging equipment to try and figure out where Planet Nine might be. It’s hoped that by getting some extra sets of eyes on the images, it might be possible to spot something that the professionals may have missed.

After all, when you’re looking at a bunch of dark images with little white dots all over the place, all of those white dots can tend to start looking the same after a while, so perhaps that’s not such a bad idea.

Related: Potential new evidence for the existence of Planet Nine

“We have the potential to find a new planet in our Solar System that no human has ever seen in our two-million-year history,” said Dr Brad Tucker, the lead of this new initiative. “If this planet exists, it's already in one of our thousands and thousands of images.”

Planet Nine is expected to be a large gassy planet, if it exists, which means it theoretically shouldn’t be that hard to spot. On the other hand, it’s considered to be so far away that the Sun’s light isn’t being reflected very well off of its surface, which in turn makes it harder to see.

The only way we are going to see it from images is to carefully examine the orbit and tilt of our Solar System and look in the general direction that computer models tell us make sense for these features to occur. We should then see either some kind of hazy object or something blocking star light from the distance.

Anyone who comes up with any leads as to where Planet Nine might be will reportedly have some say in what it gets named.

It should be interesting to see if amateur astronomers can offer any help to the pros.

Source: BBC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JAN 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 12, 2020
The Core Stage of NASA's SLS Rocket is On the Move
Artemis is a bold new mission by NASA to push humanity forward in its ongoing quest to achieve long-term deep space trav ...
FEB 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 02, 2020
Everything You Need to Know About Solar Orbiter
The Sun is something you see every day when you look up at the daytime sky, but despite residing right in plain sight, t ...
MAR 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 02, 2020
Does the Earth Have a Second Moon?
If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines as of late, then you might’ve caught wind about the Earth h ...
MAR 11, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAR 11, 2020
Generating Human Tissues in Space
Researchers from the University of Zurich are studying how weightlessness impacts the production of human tissue.
APR 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 14, 2020
Everything You Need to Know About the ESA's Upcoming JUICE Mission
Jupiter is one of the most interesting planets in our solar system, and with that in mind, it may not come off as much o ...
MAY 04, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 04, 2020
The Science Behind Brown Dwarfs
Outer space is chock-full of stars and planets orbiting them, but there’s a fine line between what makes a star a ...
Loading Comments...