Discovery of 838 new worlds beyond Neptune might support 'Planet Nine' theory
A team of scientists has discovered hundreds of new worlds in the region of space beyond Neptune.

Tyler MacDonald | 4 hours ago

A group of scientists discovered 838 minor planets on the other side of Neptune, which means the number of objects orbiting the sun just increased by 50 percent.

The data was gathered between 2013 and 2017 through theOuter Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS), which used the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Maunakea, Hawaii to map out hundreds of "small worlds" located in the space beyond Neptune.

"This is the largest set of discoveries ever made," said Queen's University Belfast research fellow Michele Bannister. "These little icy worlds are important as they help us tell the solar system's history. They can also help us test the idea that there's a yet unseen planet lurking in the outer solar system."

The team examined eight patches of space located away from the Milky Way star fields in search of points of light that were slow-moving and dim. The team hand-checked over 37,000 measurements over the course of five years, which led to the new discoveries.

"The new icy and rocky objects fall into two main groups," Bannister said. "One includes those that reside on roundish orbits in the Kuiper belt, which extends from 37au to approximately 50au from the sun."

"The other consists of worlds that orbit in a careful dance of avoidance with Neptune as it travels around the sun," she continued. "These 'resonant' trans-Neptunian objects, which include Pluto, were pushed into their current elongated orbits during Neptune's migration outwards."

One theory related to the data suggests that "Planet Nine" could be causing the objects to cluster.

The findings were published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.

Leave a comment or visit us on Twitter at hashtag @crunchscinews and on Facebook.