In August 2006, the world mourned the loss of Pluto as a planet. Though ten years have passed, many still have a hard time contemplating the fact that our Solar System only has eight planets now. After all, many people learned the order of the original nine planets with a version of "My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies" or some other similarmnemonic device (memory aid). Not to worry. We may soon have a ninth planet yet again. Scientists have suggested in two new studies that there may be a massive planet lurking on the edge of our Solar System.

They are calling it Planet 9.

What is the evidence?

Elizabeth Bailey, Konstantin Batygin, and Michael E. Brown recently published a study in theAstrophysical Journal that shows the angular momentum contribution that Planet 9 has on the Sun. These researchers at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) believe that the Sun's six-degree tilt (as compared to the Solar System's plane) is caused by the massive planet. It is predicted that this mysterious planet is 10 times the mass of Earth. Its size, wide orbit, and possible 30-degree inclination is what is thought to cause the Sun to "wobble" a bit.

The second study was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters by Renu Malhotra, Kathryn Volk, and Xianyu Wang. It suggests that the cosmic ballet of four minor planets inside the Kuiper Belt is not random, but is also caused by Planet 9. The Kuiper Belt is an area of icy minor planets outside Neptune's orbit.

Where is Planet 9?

Planet 9 is so far away that astronomers have not been able to observe it.

It is estimated that the hidden giant lies as close as 200AU to as far as 1,200AU. One AU (astronomical unit) equates to the distance between Earth and the Sun. That means that Planet 9 could be anywhere between 18.6 billion miles (29.9 billion km) and 111.5 billion miles (179.5 billion km) away, making observation extremely difficult. Now, four French scientists are attempting to narrow down the possible vicinity in which it could be located.

Scientists, A. Fienga, J. Laskar, H. Manche, and M. Gastineau, have used radio data gathered from the spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn, Cassini. They used Cassini to look for any affects Planet 9 might have had on Saturn, but turned up nothing. This is not a loss. No effects on Saturn means that if Planet 9 is in the closer half of its orbit, 50% of the predicted orbit can be excluded. As of now, evidence of the existence of a ninth planet is still considered inconclusive.

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They are estimating at least another three years before actual observation of the planet may take place.

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