by Maimouna Kante
According the Scientific American, Caltech astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin claimed there could potentially be another planet beyond Neptune—about two years ago. They sometimes call this planet “Planet Nine” (as a reminder, Pluto was removed as the 9th planet in 2006 because it was deemed too small to be considered a planet; rather, it is now classified as a dwarf planet). Planet Nine has 10 times Earth’s mass and is on a 20,000-year orbit.
As long as scientists have been around they have encountered new planets. The problem comes with the consistency in the visibility of these planets. We often are unable to see them for months after their first discovery. The Scientific American explains that this unknown planet tends to appear perennially.
Astronomers explain that large planets have strong gravitational pulls and are able to affect other floating objects around them. New, more advanced technology has led them to observe the shape and the forces that seem to be associated with this planet. This could potentially explain odd orbital patterns on the outer part of our solar system.
The Scientific American shows us that scientists tend to stay away from affirmative statements. Brown believes that there is a 99.99 percent chance that the planet exists, though astronomer Scott Sheppard estimates that this number might at least be 85 percent. Both these numbers are still very high and suggest that there is a mass after Neptune. It is hard to affirm this new discovery because of how far the planet is and the vast amount of astronomical debris it can hide behind. Needless to say, the cosmos is large and to this day we still do not know everything about it.