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The number of planets might soon be going back up to nine but not because Pluto has been redefined as a planet. It is due to the potential discovery, by researches at Caltech, of a new planet, currently coined as “Planet Nine”.

So what do we know about Planet Nine so far…?

It takes around somewhere between 15000 and 20000 Earth years to orbit the Sun (which would require an extremely long calendar!).

It is about ten times the mass of the Earth which has a mass of approximately 6 x 10^24 kg. With a mass of roughly 10^25 kg, it would make Planet Nine the fifth heaviest planet in our solar system.

It is situated beyond Pluto in an icy region of the Solar System called The Kuiper belt. This belt is already home to three dwarf planets: Pluto, Makemake and Haumea but now could be home to a full-sized planet. It is also in this belt in which many objects’ orbital patterns, such as those of rocks and meteors, point to the presence of a large body affecting them.

For the original paper entitled “Evidence for a distant giant planet in the solar system” by K. Batygin and M.E. Brown; the link is below…

http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/0004-6256/151/2/22

Luke Norman / @lukeitsbatman

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