back to article Spooky! Solar System's Planet NINE could be discovered in the next NINE years (plus one to six), say astroboffins

There is no sign of the Solar System's hypothetical “Planet Nine” yet – however, astronomers in America aren’t giving up, as they continue to find bits and pieces of evidence for its existence. The idea that there could be more than eight planets on our cosmic street (shut up, Pluto) has been floating around for a while. Some …

  1. SNAFUology
    Alien

    destroyed already

    Planet nine has already been destroyed - see Greek & other Myth - some big smash up of planets and bodies that formed along wiith the solar system 4.5 billion years ago happened. MIT and other boffins say Myth does point to something like that but cannot work it out.

    other boffins say Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury are the wrong size to be where they are todat and must have gained mass or lost (Mercury) atmosphere.

    Then there the asteroids, now coming from a cluster up to 5 planetoids or a cloud of oids of some type

    Saturn and Jupiters rings diminishing along with the red spot on Jupiter (Mars's atmosphere)

    See Myth for the answers

    1. MikeeMiracle

      Re: destroyed already

      Your right because of course the Greek's were around 4.5 billion years ago when it happened to see all this :) In Science we base things on proovable facts, not speculation. Do some research we can explain how/why these planets got to where they are with their current sizes.

      Anwer this, if "planet 9" got "destroyed" then how can it be affecting the orbits of these KBO objects today?

      In either case, when the solar system first formed there were hundred of small planets that eventually came together to form the existing planets that we see today.

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: destroyed already

        "In Science we base things on proovable (sic) facts"

        In science, things aren't provable. That's the realm of mathematicians. In science, the correct method is to come up with an hypothesis based on observations. Then, devise an experiment to confirm or deny further deductions from the hypothesis. Based on the results of these experiments, the original hypothesis is refined. The hypothesis must be falsifiable, in that there must be a possible result of an experiment which would conflict with it.

      2. SNAFUology
        Facepalm

        Re: destroyed already

        You MikeeMiracle, unfortunately are like so many others who cannot seem to differentiate between the beginning and something that happened later, it's like saying you typed that reply just after birth and you haven't grown up yet.

        The solar system formed around 4.5 Billion years ago then LATER other events occurred in it - even events such as life on Earth and Jupiter's & Saturn's accretion of mass and Mercury's loss of atmosphere.

        Of course the Greeks and many before them observed the events from about 16,000BC to 2,300BC

        Lascaux cave being a sky map indicates that the sky could be seen well around 25,000BC.

        Just have to wait until the boffins catch up to the myth.

      3. SNAFUology

        Re: destroyed already

        some science you ordered - Conclusion to draw: Asteroid belt formed after solar system..

        "...Nature Astronomy found at least 85 percent of 200,000 asteroids in the inner asteroid belt — the main source of Earth’s meteorites — originate from five or six ancient minor planets. The other 15 percent may also trace their origins to the same group of primordial bodies, said Stanley Dermott, lead author and a theoretical astronomer at the University of Florida.""

        University of Florida : http://news.ufl.edu/articles/2018/06/study-reveals-secret-origins-of-asteroids-and-meteorites.php

        Nature Astronomy : https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-018-0482-4

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: destroyed already

      Or maybe it's just a VERY BIG comet that comes past every few hundred years like they do and influences them

    3. Aqua-Fyre

      Re: destroyed already

      28 dislikes & only one like. Clearly this lot don't like party-poopers

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: destroyed already

        No we just dont like bullshit artists and faux science wankers...

        1. SNAFUology

          Re: destroyed already

          Bullshit artists: said by someone who's science is the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, hmm -

          Faux science: it is not, the boffins have done the science, HAVE found the size of these planets could not have formed there, saying they either moved after forming or accreted/loss mass , have found the asteroids have all come from 2 or more, up to 5 planetoids.....

          Wankers: go look in the mirror.

          Go look it up it will be the most science you have ever done in your life

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: destroyed already

      "see Greek & other Myth - some big smash up of planets and bodies"

      That one could well be related to hypothesis that a fragmenting comet had a series of airbursts over North America circa 10k years ago, kicking off the younger Dryas period and mostly sterilising the continent of larger fauna overnight - including the Clovis people. (See craterhunter.wordpress.com)

      The "smoking gun" (craters) was always missing until the recent discovery of a large crater under the ice in Greenland, but as craterhunter has always pointed out airbursting fragments don't necessarily leave craters - Tungeska being a good example, but they may well leave teltale rockmelt patterns which he believes is there in spades and being interpreted as anomalous igneous formations (anomalous because there's no sign of vulcanism in the basement rocks)

      There's a Chinese legend of dragons and gods duking it out in the skies which is believed to trace back to about the same period.

      As for positions of planets - orbits change and planets move around. They're definietely NOT nice and stable places where everything stays in the same places for billions years on end. Accumulated gravitational peturbations see to that. (Just when any pair settle into a nice stable rhythm another will upset things)

  2. Chris G Silver badge
    Devil

    It's Dark out there.

    So the Dark planet is hard to see, it is probably composed of dark matter, runs on dark energy and is populated by Daemons of Darkness who will appear among us at the end times to smite us mightily.

    Of course that's only a theory, it might not even be there.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: It's Dark out there.

      "populated by Daemons of Darkness who will appear among us at the end times to smite us mightily."

      Ahhh, that explains where Putin, Trump, Kim, Farange, May, etc come from. They certainly cant be human, as they all seem to be missing the little thing we call "humanity"...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: It's Dark out there.

        " Why the smeg didn't you see this black hole Holly?!"

        "Well, the thing about black holes, their defining characteristic if you like, is that, basically, they're black. And the thing about space is that is, well, it's black, you see....

        1. quxinot Bronze badge
          Facepalm

          Re: It's Dark out there.

          What?!

          My ex's soul is floating around way out there?

          Boy, I'm going to sleep great tonight. Thanks for that.

          1. VikiAi Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: It's Dark out there.

            Your ex- had a soul?!?!

    2. Terje
      Devil

      Re: It's Dark out there.

      Daemon of darkness, is that some kind of power management thing or just a screensaver?

      1. PerlyKing
        Joke

        Re: It's Dark out there.

        I was thinking more like Joe "Prince of Darkness" Lucas' big brother ;-)

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: It's Dark out there.

        @Terje

        One of the Daemons of Darkness has been tormenting mankind for a couple of decades, his/her/it's other name is BSOD.

        1. VikiAi Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: It's Dark out there.

          Though that is more like a vampire - it can only torment you if you invite it in to your system.

    3. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: It's Dark out there.

      "it is probably composed of dark matter..."

      Either that or Hotblack Desiato's gone and had a stunt planet built.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: It's Dark out there.

      So the Dark planet is hard to see, it is probably composed of dark matter, runs on dark energy

      Maybe Planet 9 is black? Very black? It would explain a lot so maybe made of pure carbon. Who knows....? <shrugs>

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It's Dark out there.

      "So the Dark planet is hard to see"

      It all depends how much light there is.

      Check out the Moon's albedo sometime. It's darker than a lump of coal and I don't see any demons running rampant.

  3. Wellyboot Silver badge
    Headmaster

    square-root-of-nine years ago?

    So is that the year 2016 SQRT(9) or year 44 SQRT(2010) ? Just asking

    and this >>>It also has a solar orbit 44.4-times-nine times larger than Earth’s – this new figure is smaller than previous estimates – so it may be easier to spot since it’s closer to the Sun and maybe brighter than previously thought.<<<

    44.4*9 puts it 400AU away not on the doorstep (pluto orbit is 40)

    1. Blazde

      Re: square-root-of-nine years ago?

      Some of the earlier estimates had it as far out as 1200 AU... almost 0.5% of the way to Alpha Centauri.

      I remember on the Sky At Night Maggie did a visualisation, scattering a few stones to represent the known planets and the Kuiper belt in a small circle at one end of a long hangar, and then walked for what seemed like about 5 minutes to the other end describing how massive and extremely elliptical planet nine's orbit might be. *Then* she started climbing a dangerous looking platform to demonstrate it's huge inclination.

      It all gave a very good sense of why they think it might be a captured planet, and also why it may well not exist.

      1. Toni the terrible

        Re: square-root-of-nine years ago?

        A captured planet? Perhaps it escaped a while back.

  4. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    I find it really hard to believe that Planet 9 exists. With all of the sky surveys we've done, at no point has there been a planet shaped hole moving across the images. And yes i know, even a super Earth at long distance looks very small, but if we're able to detect asteroids in the oort cloud crossing the cameras path, then I'm sure someone would have seen a significantly larger object doing the same thing.

    But then again, as the hitchhikers guide says "“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”" .

    I'm happy to be suprised...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Planet 9 is not believed to be on the elliptic plane that the orbits of other planets follow.

      Professional astronomers have no difficulty in believing that Planet 9 might exist, and that it is more than plausible that it could be hiding on a weird orbit. They are also happy to point out that they don't know that it exists and are open to other explanations as more data comes their way.

      They're more excited about questions than they are answers.

      1. Rafael #872397
        Trollface

        Re: Planet 9 is not believed to be on the elliptic plane that the orbits of other planets follow.

        Nah, it wasn't discovered because it is flat and on it side, being very narrow from our point of view.

        1. CountCadaver

          Re: Planet 9 is not believed to be on the elliptic plane that the orbits of other planets follow.

          Well some do thnk the big bang was more a flattening to a pancake like shape then expansion, giving rise to the potential of an reverse time universe on the other of the pancake event, where everything runs backwards from that event. Potentially explaining why stuff (I forget the exact term) points forwards and ergo in the reverse universe everything points backwards

          https://www.sciencealert.com/mind-bending-study-suggests-time-did-actually-exist-before-the-big-bang << better explanation

          (I'm tired and the dog is whining so my concentration is a bit....muddy at the moment)

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Planet 9 is not believed to be on the elliptic plane that the orbits of other planets follow.

          I'd have thought the elephants would make it fairly spottable, along with the captive light source.

    2. asdf Silver badge

      yep

      Its good to be skeptical but Mike Brown and his crew have some serious street cred on these things. If it does exist they are going to find it.

      1. Ardly

        Whatever happened to Mike Brown

        I wondered why he wasn't playing full back for England anymore!

    3. M.V. Lipvig

      Planet 9 exists, it's called Pluto. It was considered a planet long enough that as far as I'm concerned it has grandfather status if nothing else. It orbits the Sun, has multiple moons itself, it was detectable on early 1900s technology, therefore it's a planet. I think the scientists who decided it wasn't just decided "How can we get into the histoey books? Let's claim a planet must be larger than Pluto, then remove its standing as a planet."

      Good luck to them on the search for Planet 10.

  5. Hairy Spod
    Coat

    " And yes i know, even a super Earth at long distance looks very small,"

    ....or about the same size as a micro Earth very close up.

  6. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    So, it'll be discovered the same year we all get flying cars then? Give or take a year or two.

  7. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    FAIL

    What?

    Planet nine was discovered in 1930

    Yes, I'm a dwarf planet denier.

    1. STOP_FORTH
      Trollface

      Nope

      Last two planets in Solar System were detected by a gaggle of Europeans. Suck it up Texas!

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: What?

      Of course there are nine planets, but men have only found 8 so far. Clyde Tombaugh discovered one of the 7 dwarf planets (Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, Eris and two more to be discovered). That just leaves three for the elves and the one discovered by Bilbo Baggins (Smeagol claims precedence but has no surviving witnesses).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      (shut up, Pluto)

      Nevar!

      Zog beat me to that, though.

    4. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: What?

      If Pluto's a planet, then so are Ceres and Vesta - meaning that Pluto would be the eleventh planet.

  8. Christoph Silver badge
    Alien

    So they are looking for ...

    Planet Nine in Outer Space

    1. Def Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: So they are looking for ...

      Well played, sir.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: So they are looking for ...

        planet nine = IX

        We all know what a slippery bunch of bastards the IXians are.

  9. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Alien

    Planet Nine has obviously decided to turn on the cloaking shield

    I mean, come on, would YOU want humanity to find you if you had the choice?

  10. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

    Future name?

    So, if and when it's discovered, will boffins throw a new contest to decide its name? Let's see what the conditions could be this time:

    - must be named after a Roman divinity, bonus points if representing a visible minority

    - Mickey Mouse's pet dog not allowed

    - name must be 8-16 characters long, including at least 1 digit and 1 special character

    - name must not be offensive to Donald Trump or Kim Jong-Un

    - name can't be translated to Niney Mc Nineface in any terrestrial or extraterrestrial language

    - submissions must be filed in a cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard"

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Future name?

      "Nemesis" is still free, I gather. Seems to tick many boxes, but somehow I think someone will object

    2. Dave Hilling

      Re: Future name?

      Niburu ...obviously...

    3. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Future name?

      Ix. It has to be Ix.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Future name?

        Ix, which in the language of Betelgeuse Five translates as "boy who is not able satisfactorily to explain what a Hrung is, nor why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven".

        I really don't see how this helps on the naming front.

  11. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    Exotic orbital inclination

    ....

    Planet 9, missing from survey.

    I'm hoping we find this object, as it will make some theoretical atronomy concepts much more valid. I also wonder if the concept of mythology can't be used to find hints. While the first poster is likely an alias for our resident scientific dissenter with his own utterly unscientific website, IF there is a 9th planet of superearth size, in a seriously exotic orbit, could it not explain some mythological weirdness we have in our various verbal histories?

    1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

      Re: Exotic orbital inclination

      "IF there is a 9th planet of superearth size, in a seriously exotic orbit, could it not explain some mythological weirdness we have in our various verbal histories?"

      Short answer: No

      Long answer: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

      Why do people insist on looking into things using myths, legends and stories instead of using actual science?

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Exotic orbital inclination

        Because some are actually based on wrong explanations (myths) of actual observations (history). Untangling the two is difficult, but not impossible. Why? Timescales/correlation.

        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SN_1006 (Monk writes unbelievable record, turns out to be actual astronomical observation)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoan_eruption#Effect_on_Egyptian_history (Contested, because the Egyptians were cheeky with their history)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_comet_observations_in_China (Chinese record of comets)

        Those are the ones I remember off the top of my head, but many more exist. Some myths are myths, and some history becomes exaggerated, but if we can find the source, it can be helpful.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Exotic orbital inclination

          Makes for good sci fi as well.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star_(Clarke_short_story)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Exotic orbital inclination

            As interesting as that story sounds, it was not a "star" in the sci-fi/science sense if it can move around and hover over a small stable. ;)

            Not sure that realisation would be much comfort to the space traveller though. They still arrived at a dead planet.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Exotic orbital inclination

          As Clifford Stoll pointed out in Silicon Snake Oil, the problem with trying to pin astronomical events down to history is that things get slid around a bit to big up whoever the reigning bigwig is at the time (or to drag down whoever the prevailing villain was).

          In his case - when he presented his work trying to do just that to his mentor, the reknowned chinese astronomer in question said - "Nice, but if it was that easy we'd have done it years ago" - and explained why (paraphrased above)

      2. eldakka Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Exotic orbital inclination

        Short answer: No

        Long answer: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

        Of course it will. Planet 9 is, if course, the home planet of the highly advanced Atlantean people.

        For 2-3 thousand years of its highly ellipitical ~20k year orbit, it is close enough for the Atlanteans to make trips to Earth in a reasonable time (even they don't have FTL capabilities unfortunately).

        During that period, they lord it over Humans, pretending to be Gods like Zeus, Set, Shiva, Uller, Wotan, etc. - after all, any sufficiently advanced technology appears to be magic. They build their giant ocean-floating cities, and megaliths like the Pyramids. They also tend to populate coastal regions such as those around the Black Sea.

        When Planet 9 starts to move too far away for reasonably comfortable interplanetary travel, they, being the bastards they are, destroy their floating cities, and coastal settlements by acts such as opening the Bosphorous, flooding the coastal plains. All this because wethey don't want youus scummy humans from having access to their advanced technology. They want us to be overwhelmed by them when they next visit to make the pacification campaign easier on them.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Exotic orbital inclination

          Of course it will. Planet 9 is, if course, the home planet of the highly advanced Atlantean people.

          For 2-3 thousand years of its highly ellipitical ~20k year orbit, it is close enough for the Atlanteans to make trips to Earth in a reasonable time (even they don't have FTL capabilities unfortunately).

          During that period, they lord it over Humans, pretending to be Gods like Zeus, Set, Shiva, Uller, Wotan, etc. - after all, any sufficiently advanced technology appears to be magic. They build their giant ocean-floating cities, and megaliths like the Pyramids. They also tend to populate coastal regions such as those around the Black Sea.

          I think I've watched that series.... https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Anime/QueenMillennia

  12. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Here's Your Sign

    There is no sign of the Solar System's hypothetical “Planet Nine” yet...

    I thought the issue was that all we have are signs but no direct detection.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Here's Your Sign

      Kinda. We have signs of something, not necessarily a planet.

      A bit like when you notice something missing from the fridge "someone else must have eaten it"... five mins later "oh, now I remember, *I* ate it". It's a slight failure in categorizing the search space.

  13. arctic_haze Silver badge
    Angel

    What if they discover it in less than nine (plus one) years?

    Will it be a success or failure of the hypothesis?

    Adding a divine being icon as it will be named after one.

  14. IHateWearingATie
    Boffin

    Stuff the impact on astronomy if planet nine is found, think of the HUGE impact on astrology. All the charts would have to be re-written!

    This could explain why, despite me being on the cusp of Cancer / Leo, I've always thought of myself as more of a Gemini. I always thought it was the influence of Jupiter and Mars rising, but clearly this unknown planet is causing the disconnect.

    I sense an opportunity to make money from suck..... sorry, I mean the spiritually aware....

    1. Graham Newton

      Astrology SHOULD be able to predict where the planet is from people not behaving/feeling as currently predicted. If it was a real science.

      1. Joe W
        Pint

        Reverse use

        Have a cold one!

        (reminds me a bit of the retrophrenologist in Ankh Morpok...)

    2. VikiAi Silver badge
      Happy

      Much like the way they completely revised/rewrote/retracted astrology when the other outer planets beyond naked-eye detection were discovered?

  15. Jiggity
    Thumb Up

    Excellent captioning

    "Majestic ... What the Sun looks like with a tiny planet near it in this completely abstract illustration" - of course, that's not a tiny planet... it's either a vast planet (i.e. > Jupiter by some way) or it's a tiny sun, so not *terribly* accurate, but at least it's honest about its representative value.

    Given examples like Sky News' reporting of the New Horizons' dash past Ultima Thule (which included a clip art graphic of a snowman, for the idiots at the back of the audience) it's refreshing to see instances where reporters admit that space looks nothing like what everyone thinks it looks like.

    1. eldakka Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Excellent captioning

      of course, that's not a tiny planet... it's either a vast planet (i.e. > Jupiter by some way) or it's a tiny sun,

      ...or a battlestation that makes the Death Star look like a a soldier wearing floaties.

  16. Gronk

    The ninth planet was discovered some time ago. Gerry and Sylvia Anderson did a film about it's discovery and exploration back in 1969.

    1. x 7

      Doppelganger

      the Anderson film

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppelg%C3%A4nger_(1969_film)

  17. albegadeep

    Wasn't this how Newtonian mechanics was disproved?

    Essentially, somebody used Newtonian mechanics to predict the existence and location of another planet, looked for it, and ... nothing. Then somebody else used Einsteinian mechanics, and found Pluto?

    Could we soon see an edit to Einsteinian mechanics?

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Wasn't this how Newtonian mechanics was disproved?

      Almost? Mercury's orbit helped prove einstein.

      1. albegadeep

        Re: Wasn't this how Newtonian mechanics was disproved?

        Mercury is probably what I was thinking of. Wikipedia says Urbain Le Verrier noticed Mercury had orbital precession not explainable by Newtonian mechanics, and thus there might be another planet nearby (Vulcan). Einsteinian mechanics explained the precession.

        I definitely got the details wrong, though, if that's what I was thinking of.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: Wasn't this how Newtonian mechanics was disproved?

          Great to see you learnt by looking up the history, finding out the science (orbits, expected "vulcan" planet not being there etc).

          Very few people do these days. Have an upvote for progress! :)

    2. eldakka Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Wasn't this how Newtonian mechanics was disproved?

      Wasn't this how Newtonian mechanics was disproved?

      Newtonian - i.e. Classical - mechanics hasn't been dis-proven.

      It is still a perfectly valid and accurate theory for describing a lot of macroscopic situations. You don't need anything more than Classical mechanics to, for example, send a probe into orbit around Saturn via several planetary sling-shot maneuvers.

      Newtonian Gravity never explained why things moved as they did, it merely gives a means (formulas) of calculating it.

      GR gave us the why, and more detailed and more accurate formulas to explain and calculate the cases that Newtonian couldn't.

  18. A. Coatsworth Silver badge
    Coat

    And now, for a dramatic representation of this article...

    ... cue Hitler screaming at the top of his lungs:

    Nine!

    Nine!!

    Nine!!!

    NINE!!!

  19. mix
    Trollface

    Remember

    The earth is flat and space is just a projection to keep us apes entertained.

  20. Toni the terrible

    Typical

    Astronomers have detected planets of various sizes around stars at distances of multiple light years and yet, can't find one almost in our backyard. Seems like another Vulcan to me (not Star trek- honestly), and you never know might mean a slight change to how we think gravity actually operates. But what do I know, nothing.

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