Astronomers have been optimistic about the existence of Planet Nine, a planet believed to be orbiting the sun but far beyond Pluto. In the latest development, two astronomers from Yale tried out collecting a small amount of scattered light from different sources using a new technique. According to them, this could help them discover the potential planet.
As per the calculations, Planet Nine would be difficult to detect due to its distance from the sun. It is said to be 12 to 23 times the distance of the sun from Pluto. This also means that the astronomers would only be able to collect very little light making it extremely hard to locate. With the new method in place, the scattered light collected will be merged with different telescope images and detect dim objects that weren’t detected earlier.
“You really can’t see them without using this kind of method. If Planet Nine is out there, it’s going to be incredibly dim,” said lead author Malena Rice, an astronomer at Yale.
Scientists haven’t explored the deep region of our solar system and there’s very little information about what’s out there. With the new method of shifting and stacking, a series of images of bodies orbiting the sun taken from different space telescopes will be collected. Using these images, astronomers can merge them with dim traces of light and identify bodies that weren’t visible earlier.
The Yale scientists used the method to detect three known objects that were orbiting beyond Neptune. These objects are also referred to as trans-Neptunian objects. The pair then used the technique to search previously unknown objects which also include Planet Nine. As of now, the pair has managed to detect 17 trans-Neptunian objects.
“If even one of these candidate objects is real, it would help us to understand the dynamics of the outer solar system and the likely properties of Planet Nine,” Malena Rice further added.
Although the new development doesn’t confirm the existence of Planet Nine, it does show the potential of the new technique to locate bodies orbiting millions of light-years away.
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