Mystery planet? New evidence suggests huge 9th planet in solar system

FILE - Artist's concept of a hypothetical planet orbiting far from the Sun.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have found new evidence that further suggests there is a ninth planet in our solar system. 

Nicknamed "Planet Nine," researchers said that the most recent data shows something big is able to pull objects from outer space toward our sun and these objects occasionally cross Neptune’s line of orbit. 

The most plausible explanation, according to some researchers, is that a planet is creating these interferences. 

"Without Planet Nine, these objects can't be pushed inward past Neptune very often," Konstantin Batygin, lead author of the study and astronomer at Caltech, told FOX TV Stations. 

Researchers created simulations both with and without the hypothesized Planet Nine. 

Below, the first panel shows a simulation with Planet Nine included. What’s more, these simulations actually align with what was observed over long-period orbits that cross Neptune’s path, Batygin explained. 

planet 9 new evidence

FILE - Simulation created by researchers to find evidence of Planet 9.  (Konstantin Batygin )

The second panel below shows a simulation without Planet Nine and it failed to produce what was observed by researchers. 

planet 9 simulation new data

FILE - Simulation that shows there is new evidence of Planet 9 in our solar system.  (Konstantin Batygin )

"In essence, this difference shows that the gravitational influence of Planet Nine is required to create and sustain the flux of this trans-Neptunian population of minor bodies," Batygin said. 

What’s next? 

The next significant step would be to find Planet Nine, Batygin said. 

The Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile will be tasked with surveying the skies and the hope is that it will accelerate the ability to detect distant objects in our solar system, and that includes Planet Nine. 

Batygin said this operation will take place in about a year from now. 

History of Planet Nine

Planet Nine, also referred to as Planet 9 or Planet X, was theorized by Batygin and Mike Brown in 2015, according to NASA. 

The prediction would explain the unique orbits of several smaller celestial objects that were discovered in the Kuiper Belt. 

Researchers believe that the planet has a mass of about 10 times that of Earth and would be similar in size to Uranus or Neptune. 

The predicted orbit of Planet Nine is about 20 times farther from our sun on average than Neptune, which orbits an average of 2.8 billion miles from the sun. 

If it exists, it would take Planet Nine between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make a complete orbit around the sun. In comparison, Neptune takes about 165 years. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.