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Planet Nine Breakthrough? Four Candidates Located

First Posted: Apr 05, 2017 06:33 AM EDT

Two astronomers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, created quite a stir last year with their announcement on Jan. 20, 2016 that stated that the Solar System has an undiscovered planet. However, no one has actually been clearly able to pinpoint the exact location of the hypothetical world, referred to as Planet 9, Planet Nine or Planet X. Now, after going through millions of objects in the sky, astronomers are investigating four unknown objects that could be potential candidates for the elusive planet.

Following the announcement, a research team led by the Australian National University (ANU) started the Zooniverse project that called on astronomers and citizen scientists from around the globe to join the search for Planet 9. The project also asked for help from space enthusiasts to categorize millions of objects in the sky survey data. The project, which was launched by Professor Brian Cox during a BBC Stargazing Live broadcast, saw 60,000 people from all over the world classifying about 5 million objects in space in just three days.

According to a Yahoo report, as of now, citizen scientists have identified four unknown objects for a follow-up study in the hunt for the mysterious Planet 9. The four celestial bodies were detected in images of the southern sky that were recently captured by the SkyMapper telescope at Australia’s Siding Spring Observatory.

The next step will include the use of SkyMapper and telescopes located in other parts of the world to further study the four objects to understand if they are viable candidates for Planet Nine. The project team has also added that the entire experiment will not go in vain even if none of the four objects is Planet 9, because the search has yielded valuable information. "We have detected minor planets Chiron and Comacina, which demonstrates the approach we are taking could find Planet 9 if it is there," said Brad Tucker, lead researcher from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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