Astronomers Say a Neptune-Sized Planet Lurks Beyond Pluto

Astronomers Say a Neptune-Sized Planet Lurks Beyond Pluto

Observations of the orbits of six small objects have led researchers to propose a very large 9th planet–100s of astronomical units (AU) away from the sun. Far enough away that this Neptune-sized planet takes ~15,000 years to complete one orbit.

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NASA Lets You Fligh Over Dwarf Planet Ceres

NASA Lets You Fligh Over Dwarf Planet Ceres

Ever wanted to experience crashing into a distant planetoid? Well, NASA can take you halfway there in their latest video.

Take a flight over dwarf planet Ceres in this video made with images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. The simulated flyover was made by the mission’s camera team at Germany’s national aeronautics and space research center (DLR). NASA’s Dawn spacecraft took the imagery when it completed its flyby recently. It’s currently circling the planet at a distance of about 240 miles.

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Is There a Ninth Planet in Our Solar System?

Is There a Ninth Planet in Our Solar System?

Planet9_FEAT

Last week, two scientists announced evidence of a planet roughly the size of Neptune with a mass 10 times that of Earth‘s and a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium. The planet is so far away that its year would last 10,000 to 20,000 Earth-years.

The planet has not actually been seen yet, though. Rather, two planetary scientists, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology, theorized that it exists, DNews‘ Trace Dominguez and Amy Shira Teitel explained in the video below.

Interestingly enough, it was Mike Brown’s discovery of the dwarf planet Eris that caused the International Astronomical Union to demote Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet in 2006. So the researcher responsible for the formal change from nine to eight planets a decade ago is now saying there might actually be a ninth planet.

Batygin and Brown inferred so-called Planet X or Planet Nine’s existence from an unusual cluster of six objects orbiting beyond Neptune in the Kuiper Belt. They argued that the only explanation for this unusual cluster is the gravitational pull of a massive planet.

“This might sound like a lot of sketchy guess work, but it’s actually a viable method of finding planets that has worked before,” Teitel said. It’s the same way that astronomers discovered the existence of Neptune, Teitel explained. Once they had mathematical models showing where to look for Neptune, it wasn’t long before they spotted the planet with a telescope.

However, finding this new planet may not be quite as easy, given how much further away from Earth it is than Neptune. “As researchers continue to refine their simulations, they’ll learn more about Planet 9’s orbit and influence on the distant solar system,” Dominguez said.

“In the meantime,” Teitel said, “astronomers are going to start sky hunting.”

Watch the video from DNews here:

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Watch Hundreds of Exoplanets Twirl Around Their Stars In This Stunning Video

Watch Hundreds of Exoplanets Twirl Around Their Stars In This Stunning Video

Watch hundreds of exoplanets twirl around their stars.

All of the Kepler multi-planet systems (1705 planets in 685 systems as of 24 November 2015) on the same scale as the Solar System (the dashed lines).

The size of the orbits are all to scale, but the size of the planets are not. For example, Jupiter is actually 11x larger than Earth, but that scale makes Earth-size planets almost invisible (or Jupiters annoyingly large). The orbits are all synchronized such that Kepler observed a planet transit every time it hits an angle of 0 degrees (the 3 o’clock position on a clock).

Planet colors are based on their approximate equilibrium temperatures, as shown in the legend.

Dan Fabricky’s latest animation of Kepler Multiple-Planet Systems – Orrery III (11/5/13). It is an animation showing all the multiple-planet systems discovered by Kepler. Orbits go through the entire mission (3.5 years). Hot colors to Cool colors (Red to yellow to green to cyan to blue to gray) are Big planets to Smaller planets, relative to the other planets in the system.

Source: astro.uchicago.edu

10 Strangest Planets In Space

10 Strangest Planets In Space

Space is unbelievably strange. You would be forgiven for thinking that every planet out there is similar, just a big ball of rock and gas, but planets are remarkably more unique than that.

Here’s the top 10 strangest planets in the known universe, that seem like they belong in some bizarre science fiction series.