Planet 9 from Outer Space: The peculiar alignment and tilt of the six most distant objects in the solar system hint at the presence of an unseen massive planet orbiting far beyond Pluto.
By now you’ve probably heard the announcement that astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown think they’ve tracked down “Planet 9,” a long-rumored large world orbiting in the distant wilderness of the solar system. The dreary truth is that the Batygin and Brown claim, while stronger than the ones that came before, is still soaked in uncertainty. Reason #1: The competing claims starkly illustrate the difference between seeing and believing.
Since they haven’t been able to observe Planet 9 directly, Batygin and Brown have attempted to find it by following its gravitational shadow. Planet 9 appears to have left its gravitational mark by scrambling the orbits of other, smaller bodies in the Kuiper Belt–the loose swarm of frozen objects (including Pluto) that orbit in the vast, distant zone beyond Neptune. Some breathless media reports notwithstanding, the evidence for Planet 9 is far from airtight, though it certainly is intriguing.
The observational evidence for those other planets comes from ALMA, a powerful radio telescope array recently constructed in the Atacama desert of Chile.
Actually, what Vlemmings and his colleagues have seen is an unexplained blip that showed up in one spot, then in another, over two pairs of observation. What scientists need are multiple sightings, tracking the blips and proving that they move like real planets (or perhaps like something else entirely; that would be exciting, too). An especially exciting tool for exploring the outer reaches of the solar system is the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST. Real-time observations of the ultra-faint sky will revolutionize astronomers’ ability to scan the dim outer reaches of the solar system. The four zones of the solar system include a staggering amount of unexplored space–almost everything beyond Pluto is barely known. I know they believe that it must have formed closer to the Sun, and got ejected out to its current orbit.
Here’s a simulation I made showing just how slowly this planet would move against the background sky.
Yes–the most wonderful lesson from this story is that it shows us how much we still have to discover.
Yes, it’s important to keep a proper perspective when big claims are made in science, but you just know that this thing is going to come and get us either by collision or the aliens that live on it migrating on mass to Earth.
Not all the material that formed and made up this system was confined to the inner solar system, as the existence of the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud clearly shows.
The volumes are so large that it will take considerable time and effort to map the outer solar system. In addition to the studies I mention in my post, infrared sky surveys are a powerful way to look for large, distant objects in the solar system. I spoke with Kevin Luhman at Penn State and he confirmed that the proposed Planet 9 would be too faint to have shown up in the WISE survey. Well, Doctor, I feel the same way about Bruce Springsteen before he started to sing like Woodie Guthrie.
There are a lot of objects past Neptune and it is likely new planets will be discovered though the distances of them will mean finding anything meaningful will be difficult. A small portion of distance of planets and stars given here by New Method for the Researchers and Readers. Again, the Sumerians were right!; just as they were with the present incarnation of Earth being formed from a cosmic collision. All ancient civilizations have their myths and lore, and because of the similarities of some accounts, it is at least possible that they are referring to the same major events. While the geological events we see today, mountain building and tektonics are relatively slow, there is a lot of evidence for catastrophic change. Vast volcanism, ocean basin flooding, the Siberian mammoth graveyard, where thousands of the animals met their end, dinosaur extinctions, could, and have, in the case of dinosaurs, be explained by celestial events.

The Mayans were tracking multiple cyclical events that were on the order of thousands of years. The evidence for Planet 9 comes from the arrangement of the orbits of objects at the far outer edge of the Kuiper Belt (or perhaps the inner Oort Cloud; the definitions are still up in the air). I realize that this kind of information probably won’t convince the true believers in Nibiru. Another name that would fit that world would be Hecate, greek goddess of the crossroads and ghosts who was said to haunt the dark of night wherever roads met. Astronomers use the same sorts of calculations that Le Verrier and Adams used to find Neptune, to infer the presence of dark matter in distant galaxies. Based on the evidence at hand now, can we approximate when we can see planet X or whatever we are calling it these days? Well Just because These two Scientists say an orbit of maybe 10,000 to 20,000 years does not mean that is exact truth. Even if you haven’t heard, the news may sound familiar, since a confusingly similar but completely separate report made the rounds just a month ago. The case for Planet 9 is much stronger than for the ones described in December, even though researchers have directly observed the earlier objects but have not seen Planet 9 at all. There is a long and noble tradition of sleuthing out invisible objects by the way they pull at other, visible ones. My colleague Ethan Siegel very ably explains Batygin and Brown’s gravitational deductive process here; the research paper is here. If the planet real, it must be big, at least 10 times the mass of Earth, and would follow a huge looping orbit. In their paper, Batygin and Brown pointedly refer to it as a planet, but the current definition of planet—the one that got Pluto kicked out of the club—requires that an object must have “has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit” in the solar system. A large planet in the far outer reaches of the solar system would reflect exceedingly little light, but it would retain some heat from the time of its formation. The simplest explanation, they say, is that they caught two solar-system objects passing through ALMA’s field of view.
ALMA, with its small field of view and full observing schedule, is not well equipped to do that. Ignore the ominous-sounding name and think about it this way: It is an HD movie camera filming a reality show about the whole universe. Some 4.5 billions of years ago, the gravitational chaos from the giant planets threw trillions of small icy bodies into that distant zone. We know for sure that a lot of stuff is floating around out there because we see traces of it on a regular basis: When objects from the scattered disk or Oort Cloud get disturbed, they plunge toward the sun and show up as comets.
Planet 9 may not exist, but countless other exotic denizens of the outer-outer solar system undoubtedly do. Batygin & Brown discuss it just a little at the end of their paper, but really there is not good answer.
There are untold numbers of objects out there, and what we find is almost always stranger than the things that we were able to imagine. Yet, these are features that would be difficult to study in other solar systems, unlike the inner planets.
Just as David Bowie re-invented himself and changed the way we look at music forever, this new planet would re-invent the way we look at our home in the universe and completely change our perspective about what’s out there, forever.
If it does, it is in an orbit that never comes within 2 billion miles of Earth, its orbital period is on the order of 20,000 years, and it would have been in its current orbit for 4.5 billion years, since the origin of the solar system. That arrangement represents a stable response to the gravity of Planet 9–that is exactly how Batygin and Brown have inferred its location.
I also believe that calculation of 10,000 to 20,000 yrs orbit is just a premature calculation.
Better yet is reason #2: These stories keep popping up because overwhelming majority of the solar system is cloaked in darkness, and is just now coming into view.

In 1846, French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier deduced the existence of Neptune from deviations in the orbit of Uranus; Le Verrier concluded, correctly, that a then-unknown planet was responsible for the anomaly. It is not clear that Planet 9 would meet that standard, despite Brown’s confident statements to the contrary. Such heat would cause the planet to radiate, just a little, at millimeter-wave frequencies (between radio and microwave). For now, Planets 10 and 11 are stuck in limbo; they are intriguing anomalies and nothing more. But comets are just a small (and perhaps very skewed) sampling of the whole mysterious population out there.
If Planet 9 turns out to be real, you can bet the theorists will work overtime trying to figure out how it got there. For larger objects (giant planets and brown dwarfs), though, infrared is the way to go because it can pick up the lingering heat signature of such bodies. He wrote so many great lines in his songs, I can’t help but think some of them could be made to fit Planet 9. The 9th Planet, Nibiru, planet of the Crossing, was recorded by Sumerians to have an extreme elliptical orbit and stay out of view, and only come close to Earth every 3600 years when it causes chaos and catastrophe on our planet with its gravitational pull. But Clovis is correct in saying that 3,600 year orbit of Nibiru dose not fit this new planet 9, if it exist. Even the latest maybe-planets turn out not to exist, it’s nearly certain that there are big, exotic things out beyond Pluto waiting to be found. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered hundreds of distant planets the same way, by noting how they pull on their parent stars. That is the planetary emission Wouter Vlemmings of Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology thinks he might have detected—not just once, but in two different directions.
In the meantime, ALMA is making all kinds of other stunning discoveries about stars and galaxies. Accounts in the tablets also tell of the Anunnaki (star visitors from this planet) watching its effects after they landed here on Earth; hence the Great Flood. But the fact of the matter is there exists exoplanets that have the same elongated orbit as Sitchin, interpreted from Sumerian, said Nibiru had. On the cosmic level, much of the evidence for dark matter in the universe comes from tracing its gravitational influence on bright galaxies.
For simplicity I’ll call these sightings Planet 10 and Planet 11, though I should be clear that the researchers did not use those terms. In fact, around the world over 600 cultures have similar tales of Earth-ending events periodically overtaking the planet. In fact, the only reason we (think we) know Planet 9 is there is because it is in a stable arrangement, not an unstable one. Could it not have had the gravity necessary to re-align these orbits to the way they are today? And ALMA is a new instrument; the blips might simply be imaging artifacts that the researchers do not yet understand. In recent years the end of the Mayan Long Count, has left many expecting this announcement, and tie it directly to climate change!
Even if they are real, the ALMA data cannot readily distinguish between a small, nearby body and a large, distant one.
Nibiru (marduk) is the planet the Sumerians say caused the cosmic collision that created the present incarnation of Earth – once far larger.

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