Astronomers narrow down where 'Planet Nine' could be hiding by playing a massive game of 'connect the dots'

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The researchers who originally proposed the Planet Nine hypothesis have narrowed down where the giant elusive world might be hiding, after carrying out an exhaustive sweep of the theoretical planet's orbital pathway.

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Scientists have narrowed down the likely hiding place of the elusive "Planet Nine," after ruling out more than three-quarters of the hypothetical world's suspected orbital pathway. In a new study, the researchers — who have been looking for the planet for almost a decade — said they believe they could find the elusive world in the next few years.

Planet Nine, also known as Planet X, is a theoretical planet that is rumored to exist in the outer solar system. The Planet Nine hypothesis was first proposed in 2016 by Caltech astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin. The pair put forward their hypothesis after other astronomers detected a series of objects in the Kuiper Belt — a large disk of asteroids and comets beyond the orbit of Neptune — that had unusually warped orbits around the sun. After analyzing these objects, Brown and Batygin decided that only a massive planet's gravitational pull could explain the orbital anomalies.

In the years since, Brown and Batygin (along with others) have filled in more pieces of the Planet Nine puzzle: The enigmatic entity is likely around seven times more massive than Earth, which would make it the fifth-largest planet in the solar system, and it's probably located somewhere between 500 and 600 astronomical units from the sun (between 500 and 600 times farther away than Earth is from our home star).

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