Planet X or Planet 9 – What we know up till now?
Space! The final frontier and its mysteries still elude us. Scientists and space enthusiasts alike are driving their efforts to make contact with other worlds and life forms from far far away in space. Recently some indirect evidence has come to light that has astronomers around the world hunting for more evidence to confirm the existence of a hypothetical world that has been dubbed Planet 9 or Planet X, depending on which side of the debate you are on.
Wasn’t Pluto the 9th planet?
After the changes in the criteria for what qualifies as a planet changed in the year 2006, Pluto, by default was stripped out of its ‘Planet’ status.
According to the new definition for an astronomical body to be classified as a planet it needs to satisfy 3 important criteria:
- The celestial body must be round in shape.
- It must orbit the sun.
- A celestial body must have ‘cleared the neighbourhood’ of its orbit i.e. the gravity of the body must have cleared the objects around it by sucking them in or the surrounding objects must have become moons.
It is the 3rd criteria that Pluto was unable to satisfy and hence lost its planetary status.
Planet 9 or Planet X
Pluto, once the tiniest planet of our solar system, still has a lot of supporters. Some scientists say that terming the new planet as Planet 9 is an insult and downgrading to the efforts of Clyde Tombaugh, who had discovered the Pluto back in 1930.
But there are those who strongly oppose the argument for terming the new planet as Planet X and not Planet 9 as the planet in question has ties to the discovery of Neptune in the year 1864.
Expert are arguing that during the discovery of Neptune and Uranus some unexplained anomalies were encountered. Before the groundwork for Pluto’s discovery was laid down it was said that a particular Planet X could be the reason for these anomalies.
It is said that even after the discovery of Pluto, experts suspected the existence of a Planet X that may be influencing Uranus’ orbit.
So much for the debate as to what the new planet can be called… But is there enough evidence to show if this planet does exist?
Here is what we know
According to mathematical calculations there is evidence of a Planet X somewhere deep in our solar system. The size of this planet rivals that of Neptune and its orbit reaches far and beyond that of Pluto. The orbit is said to take 10,000 to 20,000 Earth year to complete one round around the sun.
The estimated mass of this planet is said to be 20 times more than that of our blue planet.
As far as the existence of Planet X goes, these mathematical calculations are not definite and there needs to be considerable amount of evidence before the announcement of an actual Planet 9 or Planet X can be made, depending on how the naming debate goes. As for now, these are just predictions and not distinct observations. Experts are searching for such observations based on the predictions.
In the event this planet is discovered it will explain a lot about the distinct orbits of certain small celestial objects in the Kuiper belt also known as the circumstellar disk in the outer solar system.
The worlds must powerful telescope is being used to spot the object that is said to circle the predicted orbit. Moreover, astronomers are determined to find the Planet with the given calculations and are firm that one way or the other the explanations for these calculations and predictions will be found.