New York, March 20
A team of astronomers who have fooled about 87 percent of the southern sky has yet to find a trace of Planet Nine in our solar system.
Pluto, discovered in January 1930, was previously known as the ninth planet. However, in 2006, astronomers reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.
While astronomers continue to suspect that a previously unknown planet 9 may exist in the distant solar system, new research at millimeter wavelengths has failed to find any convincing candidate.
Led by Sigurd Ness of the University of Oslo’s Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, astronomers tracked the planet using data from the 6-meter Atacama Cosmic Telescope (ACT) in Chile.
Although the ACT was designed to study the cosmic microwave background radiation, its relatively high angular resolution and sensitivity make it suitable for this type of research.
The astronomers surveyed about 87 percent of the accessible sky from the Southern Hemisphere over a six-year period, then processed the millimeter images using a variety of techniques including clustering and stacking methods that may reveal faint sources but at the cost of information loss. positional.
“The search found many sources of tentative candidates (about 3,500 of them), but none could be confirmed and there were no statistically significant findings,” the team said in a statement.
“Scientists, however, were able to exclude Planet 9 with 95 percent confidence with the above-estimated characteristics within the surveyed region, results that are generally consistent with other null searches for Planet 9,” she added.
Astronomers also theorize that a previously undiscovered Planet Nine must lurk in the outer reaches of the solar system, perhaps in the giant Oort cloud of objects that begins with hundreds of astronomical units (au) from the sun and extends outward.
According to estimates, the speculative “Planet 9” will have a size of about 5-10 Earth masses and orbit around 400-800 IU from the Sun.
“Detecting a planet at this distance would be very difficult in normal optical sky searches due to its weakness, even for telescopes such as PanSTARRS and LSST,” the team noted.
The astronomers note that while the new results cover only about 10-20 percent of the possibilities, other sensitive millimeter facilities are coming online and should be able to complete this search for Planet 9 as it is supposed to. Ian
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