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9th planet (nearly) found?


BritAngler
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I'm wondering whether it's detectable by amateur telescopes. If it is, wouldn't it be a great competition for amateurs to see if they could find it? They'd have to announce where calculations suggest it is in the sky.

I think it should be around magnitude 15. A little less bright than Pluto, which is detectable by reasonable amatuer kit. Maybe someone could check my back of the envelope calculations. Happy to be proved wrong.

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OK - that's much less than I guesstimated. I was basing my estimate on the parameters on the BBC webpage. I must say I'm struggling to find their estimate of the orbital distance in that paper. But thanks for posting a link though.

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This is not the only speculation about "something"  being "out there" that affects materials in the Kuiper belt. There are today those that are looking for a brown dwarf that is a binary partner to our sun. I believe that the theory is that there are so many binary stars naturally occurring that it is reasonable to at least look for a partner to our sun. In that there is no obvious partner we would have to assume that it was a dark star and not actively radiating light. The only star that would fall into a category of known stars that would not be bright enough to see but with a gravitational force  that wouldn't suck up all of the Kuiper belt is a brown dwarf. So far the search has turned up nothing to prove or disprove the idea of a possible binary partner, but isn't that what scientific research is all about, testing the possibilities?

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There are a few more details in this article. It will take about 5 years for the Subaru telescope to search the most promising region.

The presence of a ninth planet has been a possibility since Sedna was discovered, something pulled it into its elongated orbit and it's too distant for any of the known planets to have done so. Previously the leading hypothesis was that a close encounter with another star in the Sun's birth cluster was the culprit. The question is whether this clumping of orbits is due to another planet, chance, or something else we haven't considered.

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Personally, I really hope there is a ninth planet in this orbit. Not just because it'd be an interesting object in itself, but it would give us a new target to send a probe towards, that is just out of reach of today's technology. I would hope that it'd encourage more research into faster propulsion methods so we can reach it.

David

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I guess that New Horizons isn't heading towards where they are pointing the Subaru telescope. Pity, otherwise what a fantastic opportunity that would be! - the Planetary equivalent of buy one, get one free! 

At up to 20 times the orbital distance of Pluto you might have might get through a few beers whilst waiting.

Not sure how you could work out the magnitude at this point. Surely all we know is its "possible mass". But that doesnt even give us a size until we know what its formed of, or we dont know what its formed of until we know its size. And surely until we have an idea of whats its made of we cant even speculate on its albedo?

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At up to 20 times the orbital distance of Pluto you might have might get through a few beers whilst waiting.

Not sure how you could work out the magnitude at this point. Surely all we know is its "possible mass". But that doesnt even give us a size until we know what its formed of, or we dont know what its formed of until we know its size. And surely until we have an idea of whats its made of we cant even speculate on its albedo?

Caltech news has a good readable write up from Mike Brown and co.  In that they say they assume it would be a mini-Neptune and the back of envelope estimates are based on that.

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Caltech news has a good readable write up from Mike Brown and co.  In that they say they assume it would be a mini-Neptune and the back of envelope estimates are based on that.

Yes have just read a more in depth write up. But there does seem to be a huge amount of hypothesis here. They seem to basing the make up of any planet as similar to Neptune based largely on its mass. But of course if it does exist and was ejected from the "conventional solar system" we still have no way of knowing from where in that solar system it was ejected and therefore its likely composition. Yes such a large mass would appear to put it in the gas giant class but as the discovery of an ever growing number of very odd exoplanets is proving our understanding of planet formation in in solar disks is far from complete. Of course these are just my ranting hypothesis and far less educated than most but its fun thinking about it.

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