Skinny via Yahoo:
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – The solar system may host a ninth planet that is about 10 times bigger than Earth and orbiting far beyond Neptune, according to research published on Wednesday.
Computer simulations show that the mystery planet, if it exists, would orbit between about 200 and 1,000 times farther from the sun than Earth, astronomers with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena said.
So far, the planet has not been observed directly.
Not observed directly, hmmm. But wait, there’s this:
The computer model also predicted the location of other objects beyond Neptune, in a region known as the Kuiper Belt, and those were found in archived surveys as well. More.
The claim is the strongest yet in the centuries-long search for a “Planet X” beyond Neptune. The quest has been plagued by far-fetched claims and even outright quackery. But the new evidence comes from a pair of respected planetary scientists, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, who prepared for the inevitable skepticism with detailed analyses of the orbits of other distant objects and months of computer simulations. “If you say, ‘We have evidence for Planet X,’ almost any astronomer will say, ‘This again? These guys are clearly crazy.’ I would, too,” Brown says. “Why is this different? This is different because this time we’re right.”
Well, this time they have serious data. Being “right,” doesn’t really count.
Championing a new ninth planet is an ironic role for Brown; he is better known as a planet slayer. His 2005 discovery of Eris, a remote icy world nearly the same size as Pluto, revealed that what was seen as the outermost planet was just one of many worlds in the Kuiper belt. Astronomers promptly reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet—a saga Brown recounted in his book How I Killed Pluto.
With some of us, that would add to his credibility.
Others, like planetary scientist Dave Jewitt, who discovered the Kuiper belt, are more cautious. The 0.007% chance that the clustering of the six objects is coincidental gives the planet claim a statistical significance of 3.8 sigma—beyond the 3-sigma threshold typically required to be taken seriously, but short of the 5 sigma that is sometimes used in fields like particle physics. That worries Jewitt, who has seen plenty of 3-sigma results disappear before. By reducing the dozen objects examined by Sheppard and Trujillo to six for their analysis, Batygin and Brown weakened their claim, he says. “I worry that the finding of a single new object that is not in the group would destroy the whole edifice,” says Jewitt, who is at UC Los Angeles. “It’s a game of sticks with only six sticks.”More.
No serious plans re name until confirmed by sighting, so far as we know.
Space science is more fun when it is based on evidence, not claims about space aliens that, if they were any good, should be in the movies.
File under: File’s open.
See also: Pluto has ice mountains?
Pluto has been resurfaced. But how?
“Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …”
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