If you believe in math and gravity and other such “theories” there appears to be precise evidence of a big, fat planet spinning far beyond the planetoid Pluto. The clues started piling up when astronomers discovered a mini Pluto (aka, rocky Kuiper Belt object far out in the nether regions of the solar system) with an interesting orbital twist… literally. From Time:
In the years that followed, astronomers discovered five other KBOs whose closest approach to the sun (or perihelion) matches Sedna’s almost perfectly, both in distance and in the angle of the orbit relative to the horizon of the solar system.
This couldn’t be a coincidence. The matching perihelia have only a 0.7% likelihood of occurring by chance; the matching angles have only a 1% chance. The double match among all six objects factors out to a vanishingly small .007% likelihood of being random. “It was very exciting to notice this collection of objects in this super obscure arrangement,” says Brown. “The orbits are physically lined up in space.”
Okay, so that just can’t happen. Clearly a shepherd was out there keeping all of these rocky masses from spinning around the Sun however they choose. Using very sharp pencils two Caltech astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, not only have validated the existence of this mystery planet they’ve referred to as “Planet 9”, they have determined both it’s mass and exact orbit. The only thing really missing from “9” is a fuzzy picture and a real name.
Planet 9 from Outer Space is apparently about 10 times the mass of Earth with an orbit 20 times farther out from the sun than Neptune. No other variables would explain the perihelion anomalies. Most likely it was created closer to the Sun back in the Good Ole Days and got slung into the ex-burbs shortly thereafter. With a 20,000 year orbit “9” would view it’s Sun more like a very bright star from it’s dark surface but there are a lot of life possibilities. Pluto has shown that these Kuiper objects can have a lot of geological activity and lots of water. A planet ten times the mass of earth with a geological composition akin to Pluto could have a tremendous internal furnace and magnetic field.
My nomination for the name is Juno. Why shouldn’t Jupiter’s wife have a planet, even if they, clearly, are estranged these days. Expect those fuzzy pictures to come from some amateur within months now that they've been spooned the orbital rout in sky.