The Search For Ninth Planet In Our Solar System: How Amateur Astronomy Helps It Move Forward [VIDEO]
The Australian National University (ANU) is tapping amateur astronomers' help to search for the ninth planet in our solar system. The prize? Aside from bragging rights, these budding astronomers also get to have a say in naming the planet.
The ANU initiative is the southern counterpart of the efforts of NASA in the northern hemisphere. The amateur stargazers will search the southern skies through thousands of pictures taken by the school's Siding Spring Observatory, The Mirror reported.
Astronomers at the ANU hope that the search for the ninth planet in our solar system will end in the largely unexplored southern sky. Although promised an option for input in naming if the planet was found by an amateur, they will still have to follow rules set by International Astronomical Union, the BBC reported.
Why do astronomers believe in the existence of Planet 9? The answer lies in the fact that the confirmation of its existence will change what we know of our solar system and how it was formed.
They also believe that the ninth planet in our solar system is so massive that it affects the objects that orbit Neptune. And its size also affects its orbit around the Sun, which they predict is a really long one, about at least 10,000 years. This they believe explains why it is very hard to spot.
The search still leaves Pluto on the vestiges of all the excitement. The discovery of Planet 9 will mean that Pluto will remain classified as a dwarf planet forever.
Pluto was stripped of its title as a planet when it did not meet the criteria of clearing the objects in its orbit. This was the case of the Eris which is larger than Pluto.
The astronomers predict that Planet 9 will be 10 times larger than Earth and as suggested by its predicted orbit, it could be 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune.