Planet 9 Might Exist, As Scientists Spotted 139 Minor Planets Beyond Neptune

Published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, scientists utilizing information from the DES (Dark Energy Survey) have spotted more than 300 space objects dubbed TNOs (Trans-Neptunian). The research was conducted by professors Masao Sako, Gary Bernstein, and graduate student Pedro Bernardinelli from the University of Pennsylvania. Their utilized technique is innovative and could support astronomer’s work in the search for undetected space objects and the Planet 9, as well.

The Research Supports Discovering Planet 9

The latest Vera C. Rubin Observatory, at CTIO in Chile, could utilize the team’s procedure to spot even fainter and farther away space objects than DES. By examining the orbits of them, scientists might be able to search for Planet 9.

Planet 9 is a Neptune-size planet that some scientists believe could be present beyond Pluto. Bernstein explained: “There are lots of ideas about giant planets that used to be in the solar systems and aren’t there anymore, or planets that are far away and massive but too faint for us to have noticed yet.”

What is TNO?

A TNO is a dwarf or minor planet that orbits the Sun from beyond Neptune, over 30au (astronomical units). Pluto, for example, is a TNO. It is also the first and the biggest alongside Eris, with Gonggong, Haumea, and Makemake more behind in terms of dimension.

What is the DES?

The research utilizes data from DES (the Dark Energy Survey), a six-year mission that was done back in January 2019. Using the 520MP DES placed on the Blanco 4-meter telescope from the National Science Foundation’s CTIO (Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory) in Chile, its task was to gather high-accuracy pictures. Such images help scientists comprehend the origin of dark energy.

How The Scientists Discovered TNOs?

DES was developed to examine supernovas and galaxies, not to discover TNOs. But, the advanced details and the fact that pictures of the sky are two hours apart meant that scientists could find TNOs by recording the movement of “dots.” Approximately 7 billion of them.

Scientists reduced such a high amount to almost 400 that were spotted over at least six nights of observations. Using the same method that helped researchers find the 139 planets beyond Neptune, they can also locate Planet 9.

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