Weekend ‘Galaxy’ Insight –Beyond Pluto? Discovery of an Unseen 9th Planet (VIDEO)





"This would be a real ninth planet," says Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy. "There have only been two true planets discovered since ancient times, and this would be a third. It's a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that's still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting."

Planet Nine was first proposed in 2014, and it has been the objective of Michael Brown and colleague Konstantin Batygin — both scientists in the Division of Geological and Planetary Science at the California Institute of Technology — to essentially debunk it.

"Our main goal at that point was to show that this idea is crazy," Brown told Nature News. Now, over a year later, Brown and Batygin are reporting the exact opposite that a planet much larger than Earth is orbiting our sun 18.6 billion miles away.




Brown notes in the PBS interview above that the putative ninth planet—at 5,000 times the mass of Pluto shown in the image at the top of the page—is sufficiently large that there should be no debate about whether it is a true planet. Unlike the class of smaller objects now known as dwarf planets, Planet Nine gravitationally dominates its neighborhood of the solar system. In fact, it dominates a region larger than any of the other known planets—a fact that Brown says makes it "the most planet-y of the planets in the whole solar system."

Brown specializes in the discovery and study of bodies at the edge of the solar system. Among his numerous scientific accomplishments, he is best known for his discovery of Eris, the most massive object found in the solar system in 150 years, and the object which led to the debate and eventual demotion of Pluto from a real planet to a dwarf planet. Feature articles about Brown and his work have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and Discover, and his discoveries have been covered on front pages of countless newspapers worldwide. In 2006 he was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People.

At Caltech he teaches undergraduate and graduate students, in classes ranging from introductory geology to the formation and evolution of the solar system. He was named one of Wired's Top Ten Sexiest Geeks in 2006, which he says, "never ceases to make my wife laugh."

Brown is the author of "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming", an award winning best selling memoir of the discoveries leading to the demotion of Pluto.

The Daily Galaxy via caltech.edu and mikebrownsplanets.com

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