‘Planet 9’ May Have Already Been Observed In 1983, Says Research


Planet: At the age of 79, one of today’s most renowned astronomers decided to undertake a search for a legendary planet. Former president of the Royal Astronomical Society and professor emeritus at Imperial College London, Michael Rowan-Robinson claims he may have discovered the supposed Planet Nine, a large icy world located in the outer regions of our Solar System, beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Hosted on the arXiv electronic preprint service on the 11th of this month, and still subject to peer review, Rowan-Robinson’s new research was based on a review of old archives from the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), a launched space observatory. in 1983 and operated jointly by NASA, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In its ten months in space, the telescope has scanned 96% of the sky in infrared.

Since this wavelength allows the detection of small objects, such as Planet Nine, Rowan-Robinson decided to make new analyzes of the data from the deactivated telescope, using as parameters some information from previous studies about the SuperEarth. In fact, the researcher found that IRAS had detected signals from an object three to five times the mass of Earth, orbiting about 225 times the distance between the Sun and Earth.

Trying to prove the improbable

Of the roughly 250,000 infrared sources detected by IRAS in its 1983 survey, only three, carried out in June, July and September of that year, seemed compatible with what could be Planet Nine. If Rowan-Robinson’s estimates are correct, the mysterious object is “traveling” towards the Constellation Cepheus in the northern hemisphere of the sky.

One of the scientists who recently returned to the Planet Nine discussion, Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), said he was “very happy that he [Rowan-Robinson] did this analysis” and thought the article was great. However, he considered that uncertainties about the exact distance from the source pointed out in the research could make it “difficult to extract signals from all this dust”.

But the English astronomer does not give up. For him, the movement of the source observed in the sky suggests that it is the orbit of a planet, which could be recalculated through evaluations made in more modern telescopes. “A search of a 2.5-4 degree radius ring centered on the 1983 position in visible wavelength and near infrared would be worthwhile,” the study author says.

With that, Michael Rowan-Robinson recognizes that new observations will be necessary to confirm the veracity of his hypothesis. If so, the English astronomer would have solved one of the most intriguing mysteries that, since the discovery of Neptune in 1846, has challenged the scientific community.