Last week, the Australian National University invited volunteers to help astronomers track down the fabled Ninth Planet, first hypothesized in 2014, and have so far identified four possible candidates for Planet Nine. Radio Sputnik talked to Dr. Brad Tucker from the Australian National University on the significance of the research.
Astronomers might well have found a new planet tucked away in a dark corner of our solar system. Last week, the Australian National University invited volunteers to help astronomers track down the fabled Ninth Planet, first hypothesized in 2014.
Within days, tens of thousands of people from around the world were given access to images taken by the SkyMapper telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory.
They examined and analyzed over four million space objects, and four possible candidates for Planet Nine emerged.
Right now they are follow up on the discoveries, he said, trying to locate the objects in space once more, because the three images they had were from last year, and they don't know where there are now. This will tell them about the orbits of the candidates, their trajectories and so forth, he said.
Dr. Tucker also reminded that this is exactly how Neptune was discovered, following a strange orbit slightly off Uranus.
By 1847 the planet Uranus had completed nearly one full orbit since its discovery by William Herschel in 1781, and astronomers had detected a series of irregularities in its path that could not be entirely explained by Newton's law of gravitation.
These irregularities could, however, be resolved if the gravity of a farther, unknown planet were disturbing its path around the Sun.
Thus the planet Neptune was mathematically predicted before it was directly observed. French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier said if you put an object here, Neptune, it would explain Uranus's orbit. Telescopic observations confirming the existence of a major planet were made on the night of September 23–24, 1846.
Pluto was discovered in much the same way as Planet Nine. Astronomer Percival Lowell noticed peculiarities in Neptune's orbit in 1906, and in 1930 Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto by comparing images of the sky to see what had moved. It would remain the ninth planet until 2006, when it was reclassified to a dwarf planet.Sputnik