Search narrows for Planet Nine

U.S. astronomers announced last month they may have found a ninth planet beyond Neptune, but conceded they had no idea where on an estimated 10,000-20,000-year orbit it might be.

See Full Article

On Tuesday, a French science quartet said they have narrowed the search area.

By studying data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, the seventh planet from the Sun, they could exclude two zones, the team wrote in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Their work confirmed that a ninth planet might exist in the far reaches of our Solar System, co-author Jacques Laskar of the Paris Observatory told AFP, "but not just anywhere".

Based on mathematical modelling, the French scientists calculated what influence a ninth planet -- travelling along the orbit postulated by the Americans -- would have on the movement of other planets as it passed nearby.

They then looked at how the known planets actually behaved.

The postulated planet is thought to circle the Sun in a lopsided, highly elongated, oval loop.

At its most distant from the Sun, the planet would be too far too away for any effect on other planets to ever be detectable, thus limiting astronomers to a searchable zone representing only about half of the total orbit.

Now Laskar and his team have reduced the search area by 50 percent by eliminating two zones in which they say the modelling does not match reality.

"We have cut the work in half," he told AFP.

Last month, astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown predicted the existence of what they dubbed Planet Nine, about 10 times more massive than Earth.

Its existence was predicted with mathematical modelling and computer simulations, and was said to exactly explain the strange clumping behaviour of a group of dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy objects and debris beyond Neptune.

Laskar and his team said the search field can be further narrowed if Cassini, due to finish its mission next year, is extended to 2020.

Astronomers expect it would take years to find Planet Nine, if it exists at all.

It would take a very large telescope to spot the planet at that distance, and with no clear idea of where on its very large orbit it is.

Many other planets have been predicted through modelling over the years, mostly wrongly.

In one famous case the science was right -- the discovery of Neptune, first predicted from its gravitational pull on Uranus.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Bill Gates talks big mysteries, 'SNL' and disguises in Reddit AMA

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates joined Reddit users for an "Ask Me Anything" session on Monday, in which he spoke about social isolation, philanthropy, "Saturday Night Live" and the scientific question that puzzles him the most. Source
  • Fly me to the moon: SpaceX taking 2 'private citizens' into lunar orbit

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Money can take you far in this world, and, apparently, even farther off it. Two private citizens will join a crew of SpaceX astronauts on the first-ever mission to orbit the moon in decades, the space flight company announced Monday. Source
  • Study finds odd link between warm climate, slow snowmelt

    Tech & Science CTV News
    DENVER - Researchers say global warming could melt mountain snow more slowly, a peculiar finding that might be bad news for the American West. Scientists have long known snow is starting to melt sooner as the climate warms. Source
  • SpaceX to fly 2 people around the moon by next year

    Tech & Science CBC News
    SpaceX says it will fly two people to orbit the moon next year. The surprising announcement was made by company chief Elon Musk on Monday. Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight around the moon — though no landing would be made. Source
  • Solar eclipse darkens skies across Southern Hemisphere

    Tech & Science CBC News
    People in the Southern Hemisphere were treated to a solar eclipse on Sunday. The annular eclipse, sometimes referred to as a "ring of fire," was only seen in parts of Chile and Argentina as well as Angola. Source
  • Watch live: Giraffe prepares to give birth to calf

    Tech & Science CTV News
    As a 15-year-old giraffe named April prepares to give birth at a New York zoo any day now, anyone interested in watching the moment online will be able to stream it on the zoo’s YouTube page as well as CTVNews.ca. Source
  • WHO's 'priority pathogens' list highlights urgent need for new drugs

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The World Health Organization has released its first list of the world's most dangerous superbugs — 12 families of bacterial supervillains considered the most serious threats to human health. The WHO calls it a list of "priority pathogens" because the bacteria have developed resistance to key antibiotic drugs. Source
  • Samsung delays its new phone, showcases tablets instead

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Samsung's product showcase Sunday is notable for what's missing: a new flagship phone. Instead, Samsung is spotlighting new Android and Windows tablets after delaying the Galaxy S8 smartphone - an indirect casualty of the unprecedented September recall of the fire-prone Note 7 phone . Source
  • Nokia relaunches iconic 3310 mobile model

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Finnish brand Nokia, a former mobile star, on Sunday launched three new Android smartphones and unveiled a revamped version of its iconic 3310 model more than a decade after it was phased out. Unlike the original, which was known for its sturdiness, the new Nokia 3310 will allow web browsing. Source
  • ZTE launches world's first 5G-ready smartphone

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Chinese telecoms giant ZTE unveiled Sunday what it said is the world's first smartphone compatible with the lightening-fast 5G mobile internet service that networks expect to have up and running by 2020. The company said the Gigabit Phone is the first smartphone capable of download speeds reaching up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) -- up to 10 times faster than the first generation of 4G services widely in use today. Source