Planet Nine continues to “hide in the shadows,” whether it is real or not. Now, scientists have a new way to look into the object in space that has been hard to find.
A report from Science Alert shows that this is because astronomers may have seen Planet Nine without knowing it as early as 1983.
Michael Rowan-Robinson, an astronomer at Imperial College London, looked at data from observations made by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) in 1983. He thinks it may show signs of the elusive Planet Nine.
Looking for the hard-to-find Planet Nine
At the moment, Planet Nine is just a theory. In 2016, a strange gravitational force was found in the Kuiper Belt, which is on the edge of our solar system. A new theory says that the mysterious object may not exist at all, or it may be a tiny black hole.
In Rowan-new Robinson’s paper, which is on a pre-print server and has not yet been peer-reviewed, the astronomer says that the images taken by IRAS in 1983 might show Planet Nine directly, though he admits that it’s not a sure thing. In his paper, he says that “given the poor quality of the IRAS detections, at the very limit of the survey, and in a very hard part of the sky for far-infrared detections, the probability that the candidate is real is not overwhelming.”
Still, he also says, “Given the great interest in the Planet Nine hypothesis, it would be worth checking whether an object with the proposed parameters and in the proposed part of the sky is consistent with the movements of planets.”
Planet Michael Rowan-Robinson?
The original 2016 paper that found evidence for a possible Planet Nine said that the planet could be up to ten times as heavy as Earth and that it hasn’t been found because it’s up to ten times as far from the sun as Neptune, so it doesn’t get much light from the Sun. But despite a lot of work, scientists haven’t been able to find direct evidence of the cosmic object yet. This has led, in part, to the black hole theory.
In his paper, Rowan-Robinson suggests a new way to look into the problem. Using the IRAS observations from 1983, he has found three key sources that were each seen about a month apart. Rowan-Robinson says that the three separate observations point to a single moving object. The astronomer says that we should look at both infrared and visible data at these three places. It may be a huge shot in the dark, both figuratively and literally, but if the new investigation leads to direct proof of a Planet Nine, let’s just hope they don’t call it Planet Michael.