The possibility that there is a great unknown planet, nicknamed planet Nine, at the edge of the solar system, is greater than 90 percent, after the findings after its prediction in 2014.
"Planet Nine really is still the only one viable explanation for all the things we observe ", thinks Konstantin Batygin, a theoretical astrophysicist of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), one of the main 'seekers' of the hypothetical new world of the solar system.
"The evidence for Planet Nine is really solid, he calculated that the probability of this world's existence is more than 90 percent," Batygin told Space.com.
In January 2016, Batygin and Caltech researcher Mike Brown attempted to characterize the planet, estimating that it is maybe 10 times more massive than Earth and orbits around 600 astronomical units (AU) of the sun on average.
So far, astronomers have now seen 14 bodies in the Kuyper Belt that bear the imprint of a big troublemaker, Batygin said. Basically, the elongated portions of the highly elliptical orbits of the objects point in the same direction, in a manner predicted by the models of Planet Nine.
The chances of such a configuration developing by chance alone are less than 0.1 percent, Batygin said. And other possible explanations fall short, he added.
For example, some researchers have proposed that clustering was due to the combined pulls of many small objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune's orbit. But a Kuiper belt "self-modulator" would look very different of the real belt we see, said Batygin.
And, he added, a recent study suggests that the entire Kuiper Belt (without Planet Nine) does not hold more than 2 percent of the Earth's mass, which is not enough to shape the orbits of the bodies of the Earth. observed way.
In relation to the unsuccessful search to date with the telescopes available, this scientist said: "If we do not find it in the next five years, the LSST is definitely going to give the last word on Planet Nine. "It refers to the Great Synoptic Tracking Telescope (LSST), which is being built in Chile and will start operating in 2022.