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Why NASA Thinks a Hidden Ninth Planet Might Be Possible
By GEORGINA TORBET
The idea regarding the possible existence of a ninth planet, called Planet Nine/Planet X, in the solar system started with Caltech professors Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin looking far out beyond the orbit of Pluto. This region, called the Kuiper Belt, is a disk of ice and debris which is host to several dwarf planets.
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It was found that the orbit of some of the bodies in this distant region, called trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), seemed to be clustering in strange ways, possibly due to the presence of a giant planet too far away for us to observe directly. There have been theories about the object being even bigger and closer than first thought, and some even think it’s a miniature black hole.
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Even NASA is open to the possibility that Planet Nine might exist, as the agency has a page on "Hypothetical Planet X," stating that it could be 10 times the mass of Earth and could have an orbit so far out that a year there would last between 10,000 and 20,000 Earth years. However, the experts it quotes are careful to emphasize that the planet is only a theory at this point.
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The planet has not yet been detected, but there’s indirect evidence to suggest that it exists. Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, noted, "What we're seeing is an early prediction based on modeling from limited observations. It's the start of a process that could lead to an exciting result."
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