Published On: Wed, May 4th, 2016

Planet Nine May Not Exist: Scientists

Planet nine may not exist new research by astronomers at Harwvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CFA). The scenarios indicating its presence actually have low probabilities.

Planet Nine May Not Exist Scientists (1)

In January astronomers from the California Institute of Technology claimed to find evidence of a new giant planet that has a mass about 10 times that Earth and can bring the tally of planets in our solar system back to nine.


The Neptune mass planet was claimed to be in an elliptical orbit 10 times farther from our sun than Pluto, since then theorist have puzzled over how this planet could end up in such a distant orbit. But presence of planet nine remains a bit of a mystery till date.

Planet nine circles our sun at distance of 400-1500 astronomical units. An astronomical unit is the average distance of the Earth from the Sun or 93 million miles. This places it far beyond all the other planets in our solar system. Li and her co-author Fred Adams from the University of Michigan conducted millions of computer simulations in order to consider three possibilities.

Li and her co-author Fred Adams

Most likely possibility involves a passing star that tugs Planet Nine outward. Since the sun formed in a star cluster with several thousand neighbors, such stellar encounters were more common in the early history of our solar system.

Planet Nine May Not Exist Scientists

An interloping star is more likely to pull Planet nine away completely and eject it from the solar system. Li and Adams found only a 10 percent probability at best of Planet Nine landing in its current orbit.

The team proposes that Planet Nine formed much closer to the sun and then interacted with the other gas giants, particularly Jupiter and Saturn.

A series of gravitational kicks then could have boosted the planet into a larger and more elliptical orbit over time. They also examine the possibility that Planet Nine actually formed at a great distance to begin with.