The Search for Planet 9: So, where is it? (audio remix)

Astronomers believe there is an undiscovered super-Earth Sized planet lurking in our outer solar system. If it exists, then astronomers think it would have an estimated mass of ten Earths. So, where is it?

Published on 11th May, 2018

Astronomers believe there is an undiscovered super-Earth Sized planet lurking in our outer solar system.

If it exists, then astronomers think it would have an estimated mass of ten Earths, a diameter two to four times that of Earth, and an elongated orbit lasting approximately 15,000 years. So far, efforts to find this planet have failed.

They are calling it Planet Nine and astronomers are seriously trying to find it. Our guests today have written a paper outlining efforts to locate this planet using WISE and NEOWISE data. They think that Planet Nine, if it exists, should be self-luminous enough and potentially bright enough in the near infrared that the NEOWISE telescope should be able to see it.

Today we’ll talk about those efforts along with what WISE and NEOWISE is, why we think Planet Nine is there in the first place, and whether or not it will have any adverse effect on the Earth anytime soon.

Scientists are searching for this illusive body in our solar system using all the data they can find and obtain with observatories including those in space. It is speculated that this planet orbits the Sun very far out in the solar system, at hundreds of times the distance from the Earth to the Sun (one Astronomical Unit). It could be that the planet shines on its own in the infrared, making it perfect for the Wide Field Infrared Explorer (WISE) satellite. A clever methodology by scientists is aimed to detect very faint moving objects. What is the result?

Join Tony Darnell and Carol Christian during Afternoon Astronomy Coffee on May 10 at 3PM Eastern time as they discuss with Aaron Meisner (UC Berkeley), Ben Bromley (U of Utah), and Scott Kenyon (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) their deep search for Planet Nine and what they found.

Link to today's Paper:
https://arxiv.org/abs/1712.04950

This posting fixes audio issues from the Live Hangout