Some scientists believe that a massive planet that astronomers have never detected could be lying, almost invisibly, near the dark fringes of our solar system.
Astronomers had pinpointed all eight major planets by 1846, and have subsequently discovered several additional 'dwarf planets,' including Pluto.
Yet, the search for the enigmatic 'ninth planet,' which is assumed to exist far beyond Neptune in our solar system, continues, according to science specialist Sara Webb.
There is plenty of evidence for the planet, which is thought to be up to 20 times further away from the Sun than Neptune, but it may be hard to detect with current technology.
There's a solid reason astronomers spend many hundreds of hours trying to identify a ninth planet, nicknamed " Planet Nine" or "Planet X". And this is because the Solar System as we know it would be meaningless without it.
Our entire Solar System revolves around the Sun. Some go quickly, some slowly, but all follow the laws of gravity. Gravity exists in everything that has mass, including you and me. The more gravity something possesses, the heavier it is.
The gravity of a planet is so strong that it affects how objects move around it. Its "gravitational pull" is what we term it. The gravitational pull of the Earth is what maintains everything on the ground.
Furthermore, our Sun has the greatest gravitational pull of any object in the Solar System, which is why the planets orbit it.
Our best indication for a putative Planet Nine comes from our understanding of gravitational attraction. For many years, scientists all throughout the world have been looking for visible proof of Planet Nine. We try to identify it by looking for sunlight that it can reflect, similar to how the Moon shines at night from reflected sunlight.
But, because Planet Nine is so far away from the Sun, we expect it to be incredibly faint and difficult to observe even with the greatest telescopes on Earth. Also, we can't look for it at any time of year.
We only have a few evenings where the conditions must be ideal. We must wait for a night when there is no Moon and the place from which we are observing faces the correct area of the sky.
But don't give up hope just yet. More telescopes will be developed over the next decade, and fresh surveys of the sky will commence. They might just give us the opportunity to verify or refute the existence of Planet Nine.
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