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

  • Burned bears treated with fish skins spotted in the wild

    Tech & Science CTV News
    GOLETA, Calif. -- Officials tracking two bears that were badly burned in the largest wildfire in California history say the animals are settling back into their home in the wild after receiving unusual treatment for their injured paws. Source
  • Facebook to verify ads with postcards after Russian meddling

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MENLO PARK, Calif. -- Facebook will soon rely on centuries-old technology to try to prevent foreign meddling in U.S. elections: the post office. Baffled in 2016 by Russian agents who bought ads to sway the U.S. Source
  • Facebook forges ahead with controversial kids app

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Facebook is forging ahead with its messaging app for kids, despite child experts who have pressed the company to shut it down and others who question Facebook's financial support of some advisers who approved of the app. Source
  • WATCH: Thai villagers rescue baby elephant that fell into well

    Tech & Science CTV News
    An elephant calf that tumbled into a well in eastern Thailand has been reunited with its mother thanks to the tireless efforts of a group of villagers. The little elephant fell into the well on a rubber plantation located in the Kaeng Hang Meow District in Chantaburi province in the early hours of Friday morning. Source
  • Google takes away the 'view image' option

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Google no longer offers the ‘view image' option, instead search engine users can jump through a few extra hoops to get want they want. Go to Google, type in your image search, find one you like, click, view image and save. Source
  • Spacewalking astronauts finishing months of robot arm repair

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Spacewalking astronauts stepped out Friday to wrap up months of repair work on the International Space Station's big robot arm. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Japan's Norishige Kanai emerged from the orbiting complex as the sun rose over Peru's western coast, 250 miles below. Source
  • Underwater video shows marine life growing at wind farm

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BOSTON -- Offshore wind proponents are touting new undersea footage that suggests a vibrant marine habitat is growing around the nation's first offshore wind farm -- a five-turbine operation off Rhode Island's waters. The American Wind Energy Association, an industry trade group, says the roughly two-minute clip it posted on YouTube this week shows the potential for the nation's fishing industry as larger projects are envisioned up and down the East Coast. Source
  • Enhancing athletic performance on a genetic level

    Tech & Science CBC News
    ?Doping is always a hot topic at the Olympics. One day, we may never again have to ban the entire Olympic team from Russia, not because athletes won't be doping, but because they will be gene doping and be able to completely avoid detection. Source
  • Endangered leatherback sea turtle found frozen in N.S. likely died of starvation

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A large leatherback sea turtle found encased in ice in Cape Breton likely died from starvation, according to the expert who performed the necropsy. Laura Bourque, a veterinary pathologist with the Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative in Charlottetown, P.E.I, told The Canadian Press that the endangered turtle appeared to be emaciated. Source
  • Research finds evolutionary 'secret sauce' against climate change

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Research suggests hares and jackrabbits hopping along in the Rocky Mountains demonstrate the "secret sauce" for how animals can adapt to a new climate. Scott Mills, lead author of a paper published Thursday in Science, says lessons from mixed populations of brown and white bunnies can be applied widely to help species adjust as the environment changes around them. Source