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Scientists Narrow Down On Planet Nine's Location

Update Date: Feb 25, 2016 08:48 AM EST
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Are you there, Planet Nine? French scientists seem to be close to the answer.

U.S. astronomers announced the possibility of the ninth planet past Neptune last month but did not seem to locate the 10,000 to 20,000-year orbit. But now, a group of French scientists announced Tuesday that they have been able to narrow the search area here, according to CTV.

With data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, orbiting Saturn at present, scientists exclude two zones and narrow down the possible search area by 50 percent.

"We have cut the work in half," said Jacques Laskar, co-author of the study.

If Cassini extends its mission to 2020, the scientists can probably narrow down even further the search field for Planet Nine, which has so far been predicted using mathematical modeling and computer simulations.

If Planet Nine is situated at some point on the far side of its orbit around the sun, its influence on the inner planets would be in conflict with the original model predictions. This would enable scientists to conclude that the planet could not lie within 1,000 astronomical units from the sun, reports Space.com.

"It's a state-of-the-art calculation and a very clever idea," said Konstantin Batygin, another co-author of the study. "It is wonderful to see that members of the community are presenting their own proposals on how to best optimize the observational search for Planet Nine. This is exactly what Mike [Brown] and I hoped for."

The new data is available for pre-print on arXiv  and will be published in an upcoming issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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