back to article Boffins: There's a ninth planet out there – now we just need to find it

Scientists at CalTech claim to have found proof that there is a ninth planet in the solar system, using computer modeling and historical astronomy data. The new planet has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and has a very eccentric path around our Sun, making one complete orbit every 10,000 or 20,000 years and travelling 200 …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge


    .... is that you?

    1. Bob Dole (tm)

      Re: Nibiru...

      Is it sad that my very first thought on hearing about this planet was that the UFO and End of The World people were going to seriously go nuts about it?

      The only thing that could make it worse is if they find this planet only a few hundred years away (or less) from crossing the orbital path of a major planet like Jupiter or Saturn.

      1. Captain Hogwash

        Re: Nibiru...

        The UFO people? I really don't see why members of the United Fruitcake Outlet would be interested in astronomy.

    2. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nibiru...

      ITYM "Rupert"

  2. Novex

    I was thinking Mondas...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Our transformer just blew up...

      There seems to be an energy drain...

      1. BebopWeBop

        Re: Our transformer just blew up...

        O.K. There's a ball of fire, it's 1200 miles in diameter headin straight for Earth, and we have no idea how to stop it. *That's* the problem.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    If Pluto is taken.

    Should we name the new planet "Goofy"? Would work well with it's orbit!

    This could also open up untold corporate sponsorship opportunities, such as "Walt Disney Corporation Presents Goofy--the Planet" or a certain coffee shop can name the planet Starbucks, so there really is a Starbucks in every corner of the solar system.

    The money raised could be used for science education, which is a way of saying it will probably get spent on conference junkets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If Pluto is taken.

      "so there really is a Starbucks in every corner of the solar system."

      I know it says it has an eccentric orbit, but corners? Is this channeling D N Adams or M C Escher?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If Pluto is taken.

      How about "Bob", as enunciated by Rowan Atkinson.

      It suggests an identity but at the same time ridicules it.

      1. BlackAngus

        Re: If Pluto is taken.

        "You can't name a planet Bob." -Akima, Titan A. E.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If Pluto is taken.

      How about "The New Number Nine"?

      1. dan1980

        Re: If Pluto is taken.

        @Big John

        You know, I really like just plain "Planet Nine".

        Or, continuing the sci-fi theme, why not 'Ix'?

        But, if keeping the Roman god theme, then Bacchus might be an okay fit. Sure, it's unlikely that a god of wine would get the nod but Dionysus did leave Olympus to wander through Greece and beyond so that part fits.

        1. Ammaross Danan

          Re: If Pluto is taken.

          "9" is a movie and the MPAA would sue them into the ground.

        2. erikj

          Re: If Pluto is taken.

          My aged computer science background says we should increment the planet number by 10s in case we have to someday insert new planets between the ones we know about today.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: If Pluto is taken.

            How about LV-426?

            That way when space tourism opens up we can sell T-shirts.

            "I went to LV-426 and all I got was a hug"

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Call it Glenda, after the mascot for Plan[et] 9 From Bell Labs.

              But seriously, Planet names are weird. They are all Roman, except Earth, and strangely Uranus which is Greek. Many of the Solar System's moons are Roman or Greek, or else named after mythological figures from many cultures, Inuit, Gallic, Hawaiian, and so on. There are so many of them that we can assume the best names are already taken.

              There might be worse ideas than to look to a synthetic mythology for a new planet name. Given Tolkein's day job, some character's from Middle Earth would at least sound right: Girion, Durin, Hirgon, Amrothos



              1. Neoc

                Re: Call it Glenda, after the mascot for Plan[et] 9 From Bell Labs.

                @Dave 126:

                "Earth" is the English version. A more generic term that's been used is "Terra", and that is a Roman Goddess ("Gaia" being the Greek equivalent).

                1. CarbonLifeForm

                  Re: Call it Glenda, after the mascot for Plan[et] 9 From Bell Labs.

                  Also "Tellus', if you're in a EE Doc Smith frame of mind.

                2. CarbonLifeForm

                  Re: Call it Glenda, after the mascot for Plan[et] 9 From Bell Labs.

                  How about Tellus? Though that's usually associated with the Earth, it's a nice, non-flippant name.

              2. Robert Helpmann??

                Re: Call it Glenda, after the mascot for Plan[et] 9 From Bell Labs.

                I would disagree that all the best names are taken as there are so many different cultures and thus mythologies from which to draw. I am not saying that I disagree with the suggestion that Tolkien's characters should be considered, either for this or other astronomical bodies, just that I believe there is plenty of play left among the various mythological names still available. My vote is for Kokopelli as it fits the the planet's wandering path.

                And no matter what, you can't call a planet "Bob"!

                1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                  Plan Nine from Outer Space

                  There's even prior art. What's not to like?

            2. Ben Bonsall

              Re: If Pluto is taken.

              I want a t-shirt with 6 sleeves, and 'I was abducted and taken to an ant-world, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt' on the front.

              1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                Re: If Pluto is taken.

                >I want a t-shirt with 6 sleeves, and 'I was abducted and taken to an ant-world, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt' on the front.

                Pop over to and make a request! :)

                1. Uncle Slacky

                  Re: If Pluto is taken.

                  I went to a planet with no bilateral symmetry and all I got was this lousy F-shirt.

          2. Charles Manning

            Re: If Pluto is taken.

            You could always GOSUB.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If Pluto is taken.

            "says we should increment the planet number by 10s"

            That's just basic astronomy.

          4. E 2

            @erikj Re: If Pluto is taken.

            You could have planet 9, planet 10, planet 9.5, planet 9.51, etc.

            Like sections in some uni physics textbooks.

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

        4. Kernel

          Re: If Pluto is taken.

          "Or, continuing the sci-fi theme, why not 'Ix'?"

          Works for me - I might just catch the next Heighliner heading that way and take a quick look at it.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: If Pluto is taken.

            watch out for ixian facedancers

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: If Pluto is taken.

              I want one of those with 8 arms, a picture of a blue crystal and Metabilis III on it.

        5. lawndart

          Re: If Pluto is taken.

          The trouble with Ix is, it means "Boy who cannot satisfactorily explain what a Hrung is, nor why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven".

          Any visiting aliens are going to think we are really weird.

        6. DropBear

          Re: If Pluto is taken.

          "You know, I really like just plain "Planet Nine""

          Aha, sure... and I suppose that makes its far, weird orbit "plane nine in outer space"...?

        7. hplasm

          "You know, I really like just plain "Planet Nine"."

          No, no, no no,no!

          It must be Planet Ten- else what of Planet X?

          Also, no matter how large it is, it will probably be classed as a 'Dwarf, Elf or Gnome World.

          Pluto is a bloody planet. Get over it. Planet #9.



        8. Anonymous Coward

          Re: If Pluto is taken.

          GIven the orbit, it may really be a "drunk" planet.. but Bacchus name is already taken by an asteroid. Unluckily, the IAU "wasted" too many good mythological names for little asteroids, it looks they didn't believe any major planet could be found, nor some "dwarf" ones.

          I would call it Chronus (AFAIK is not taken, but I could be wrong) - given the distance at it circles the Solar System, and the time it takes.

          (Yes, I know Chronos instead woud make some Star Trek fans happy, but in Latin it's Chronus).

          1. dan1980

            Re: If Pluto is taken.


            Damn it!

            But then Cronus is identified with Saturn for the Romans and that is also taken!! Saturn is actually the PERFECT name as Saturn/Cronus was expelled by Zeus/Jupiter, which is one of the likely theories of how the planet in question got its orbit!!

            Double damn it!!!

        9. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If Pluto is taken.

          Well if we're heading down the mythological/deity route, with an orbit like that surely it should be named Bilious?

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: If Pluto is taken.

            Planet? Shmamet! Janet.

        10. CarbonLifeForm

          Re: If Pluto is taken.

          Big, beefy planet, wandering away from the other gods. Herakles.

          Or we could go with with Hera, Jupiter's wife. Or Minerva.

      2. jimbo60

        Bring in the Beatles

        Revolution 9?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If Pluto is taken.

        @Big John - or 'Nine of Ten' , perhaps?

    4. ashdav

      Re: If Pluto is taken.

      The coffee shop/restaurant to which you refer is called Milliways.

      Try to keep up.

    5. MyffyW Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: If Pluto is taken.

      Starbuck's in every corner of the solar system

      What has Kara Thrace got to do with this?

    6. John Presland

      Re: If Pluto is taken.

      Please, "its" not "it's".

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't entirely agree

    "Pluto was also proved mathematically to exist but it was nearly 100 years later before it was confirmed, and then demoted to dwarf planet status in an infamous 2006 astronomers' vote."

    As I understand it, irregularities in the motion of Neptune could have been due to a planet orbiting beyiond Neptune. But Pluto was not that planet. In fact, when it was discovered it was reported as being at the top of the error bar for the observed size, and even then it was too small to account for the irregularities. Subsequent observations narrowed the error bars, and the top one was consistently in a downward direction. By 2006 it was clear that (a) Pluto was much smaller than had originally been supposed, smaller in fact than some moons and only 70% the diameter of our own; and (b) it wasn't the proximate cause of the Neptunian irregularity. This led to the downgrading of Pluto.

    And here is our very own Jocelyn Bell-Burnell announcing the result:

    (The last time I saw J B-B she was handing round the tea at Bradford upon Avon Quaker Meeting, which is a slightly less august gathering.)

    I know that some US astronomers still moan because Pluto was the only "planet" to be discovered by an American but come on, guys, the achievements of the US in astronomy are such that a potty little rock orbiting a G-glass star shouldn't be a bone of contention. You're bigger than that.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: I don't entirely agree

      I would also quarrel with the adjective "mathematically". That would imply there is a mathematical logic system having total true/false values in there. What we want to read is "predicted to exist based on error-laden observational data of orbital perturbations"

      1. John Savard

        Re: I don't entirely agree

        While mathematicians prove mathematical statements with absolute truth, mathematics is also used to do things in the real world, like building bridges. So using mathematics to find Neptune, although it worked, had nothing to do with proving Neptune's existence as though it were a theorem. So I don't see a problem with "mathematically" as an adjective entering into the description.

    2. John Savard

      Re: I don't entirely agree

      Yes, I was going to comment on this point after reading the article. After the discovery of Neptune, similar calculations were made which predicted another planet, and looking for that planet, Pluto was found. But those calculations were mistaken; not only was Pluto too small to cause the perturbations for which they were looking for a cause, but in addition, those perturbations weren't real (otherwise, another new planet, bigger than Pluto, would have been found by now - instead, the error in the observations used in the calculations has been found).

  5. Rusty 1

    Gastronomic opportunities

    Oh distant ninth, will you provide us with an unknown flesh that will complement the surf and turf, golden eagle, and giant panda we have here already? If so, we'll find the helium and be right over.

    If it's all flora, no worries, we have sprouts already.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Um, I think you missed the fact that this new #9 is supposed to be ten times the mass of Earth.

      That means ten times the gravitational effect. With our current technology, good luck building a rocket that can lift off of that.

      And if there are animals on that planet, and we somehow manage to bring one back, I shudder to think of its strength here on Earth. You'll have the power of an elephant in something the size of a cat.

      1. james 68

        @Pascal Monett

        That really depends upon its rotational speed, if its slow then lifting off would be boned. However if it is fast then lifting off at or near the equator would be quite easy.

        Mind you it would be a bugger to make a rocket of any viable kind capable of withstanding the 10G load of the planet + the atmospheric pressure on a 10G planet + the G load of accelerating to orbit.

        1. xehpuk

          Re: @Pascal Monett

          10 times the mass don't dictate 10 G. It depends on the density also. In the atmosphere of gas giants it is possible to find a spot with 1G (same as on earth).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Competiton Time?

    How about MONGO? 'Flash, a-ha!!'

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Competiton Time?

      Surely you mean the planet Porno?

      And stop calling my Shirley!

      (Or planet X, or maybe planet XXX)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Competiton Time?

        Planet of the oyster!

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Competiton Time?

      'Flash, a-ha!!'

      Gordon's alive?

  7. Tromos


    It won't be easy to show that it has cleared the neighbourhood around an orbit like that. Either scrap the stupid rules and reinstate Pluto, or put this one down as a 'dwarf gas giant' if and when it's spotted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Planet?

      The orbit clearing requirement assumed planets with orderly orbits that transited the same area over and over again. No one expected something like this. I'm sure it will get an exception for the orbit clearing requirement and will otherwise easily qualify as a planet. You can't claim something 10x larger than the Earth is a 'dwarf', it would make no sense.

      1. Gordon 10

        Re: Planet?

        **cough brown dwarfs cough**

      2. stephanh

        Re: Planet?

        But the rules don't care about mass. That is, by the way, what makes them so ridiculous. You would think the "dwarf" label would somehow refer to size but it doesn't. So a dwarf gas giant planet is a completely feasible outcome of the current rules.

        In fact, it is generally considered possible that the outer Kuiper belt may still contain a Mars-sized or even Earth-sized object, just judging from the observed mass distribution of Kuiper belt objects. However, such an object would still not qualify as a "planet", even if it would be the size of Earth!

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Planet?

        "No one expected something like this."

        In that case, I submit "The Spanish Inquisition" as my entry for the naming competition.

    2. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Planet?

      I was wondering how you'd go about proving it had cleared it's orbit too, but at only 10 times the mass of Earth I'm going to guess it's rocky (with an icy crust) like a really big Pluto.

      At 200 AU or so, can any boffins guess how long to get there?

      1. Rusty 1

        Re: Planet?

        Well, if it's anything like the Kessel Run, about 12 parsecs?

      2. Grikath

        Re: Planet?

        Well, the published article does pose an idea of how a mass like that would have ended up all the way out there, and if they're correct "orbit clearing" would have been on the menu before the core was tossed out by the Dance of the Gas Giants during our solar systems puberal tantrums.

        Fair warning: the article is not Light Reading, and the Math it contains may well cause recurrent nightmares of Highschool Days Past or other feelings of inadequacy. They're also pretty fair about the limits of their models, so anyone owning a fat cluster with spare time : They Need Moar Cycles...

        But yeah.. They make a solid case. Enough to warrant a serious hunt.

        Edit: a brown dwarf would have shown up on at least IR already.. Besides the mass is calculated to be around the order of 10 earth masses. Nowhere near enough to rival any of the Big 4, let alone a brown dwarf...

      3. Bob Merkin

        Re: Planet?

        About 60 years assuming a similar velocity as Voyager 1. It took 35 years to go 121 AU. You'd need a big rocket. The Voyagers were launched on Titan IIIEs. The upcoming SpaceX Falcon Heavy may be suitable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Planet?

          "Planet Nine from Seriously Outer Space"

          And there may be even more stuff out there.

          Still no Heechee jump-off base though.

        2. TimeMaster T

          Re: Planet?

          60 years coasting. If we used an Ion engine or VASIMR* that could provide constant thrust we could cut that time by a big factor, like under a year.

          All we need to do is find it and have a really good reason to go there asap. Humanity won't do it of course, but we could, with just a couple decades of real effort.

          Maybe if they detect unobtanium** or something uber cool like that.



      4. stephanh

        Re: Planet?

        Actually Uranus is only 14.5 times the mass of Earth, so it would seem quite possible for it to be a gas giant (well, "ice giant" really) like Uranus and Neptune.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Planet?

      About the clearing requirement, from the CalTech article:

      Unlike the class of smaller objects now known as dwarf planets, Planet Nine gravitationally dominates its neighborhood of the solar system. In fact, it dominates a region larger than any of the other known planets—a fact that Brown says makes it "the most planet-y of the planets in the whole solar system."

      Case closed I suppose.

    4. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Planet?

      The 'Cleared its orbit' rule doesn't even work for most of the other planets.

      International Astronomical Union, sigh, they must have been drunk.

  8. Alistair

    Re: Planet?

    **cough red star cough**

    Threadfall warnings shortly........

    1. Tadirr

      Re: Planet?

      As long as I get a Bronze Dragon I will be fine.

      Go between and miss the commute :)

      1. Alistair

        Re: Planet?


        Was happy with my green.

        Scary - this ties into one of the reasons my wife and I hooked up.....

        (muds/mushes. Still around. Still running. Still backing up 4 of them ....)

  9. Borg.King

    Was my pleasure to hear Mike Brown speak at WWDC this year.

    A very good speaker, and Apple could do worse than publish the video of his speech.

    He spoke then about this ninth planet, and I hope he's honoured for this discovery when it's finally seen. He's also got a passionate explanation for demoting Pluto.

    1. asdf

      Re: Was my pleasure to hear Mike Brown speak at WWDC this year.

      It would be easier to poo poo this idea (ala Lowell and Planet X) if it was anybody else but Mike Brown but that dude is king at finding far off shit in the solar system. IMHO Sedna was a bigger find than even Pluto.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Zog_but_not_the_first


    You mean 10th planet.

    Unashamed old school nomenclature.

  12. gerdesj

    Artist's impression


    (Apparently comments need to have content around here, so here it is)

    1. TimeMaster T

      Re: Artist's impression

      That's pretty high magnification you got there!

  13. Christoph

    About two days after it is actually found someone in the US will sue NASA to demand they divert New Horizons to pass it (ignoring the detail that it would be impossible to do, and that if it were possible they would already be doing it).

    1. Grikath

      Well , given that we don't know where it actually *is* , there's a remote chance that if it does indeed exist it may be in a feasible flight path.

      The research shows its likely presence from the grouping of a number of KBE orbits. It does not tell us where we can find it, other than a rather broad band of possible orbits depending on the actual mass. Where in that orbit the planet is at this point in time the research can't tell us. The planet itself could be all the way on the other side of the Sun, or straight on an extended flight path for New Horizons. We don't know until we find the thing..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Would take a while to get there, voyager 1 has been going for 39 years and hasn't even got to where its supposed to be orbiting. If its 200 times the distance that earth is from the sun, that's outside the 'solar system' and in interstellar space. Voyager 1 is at about 133 times the distance right now.

      But I may be wrong.

      1. TimeMaster T

        "Would take a while to get there, voyager 1 has been going for 39 years"


        with a VASIMR or ion providing constant thrust we could get a probe there in under a year flight time

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Hmm.. (still bleary-eyed) - did you remember to factor in that to get much useful science you'd want to slow down a bit before you got there, lest you whiz past too fast/ Still, even if it took up to four years, that;d be durned fast by previous standards!

          1. Hans 1

            Well, I would not dare guess how long it would take.

            The main problem many here do not realize is that Voyager used the attraction from planets it passed to speed up. Given this planet's "theoretical" trajectory, there will be no other planets far and wide to be used as "thrusters" which means it will take considerably longer to get there ... much, much, much more than 60 years (approximate time it would take Voyager to reach the "distance").

            1. Grikath

              Ultimately, if you want to go out that far, it makes more sense to build a decent lab/observatory that can actually accelerate/decelerate and enter orbit locally. It'd give you a nice spearhead in the neighbourhood, and you can do Science for years, instead of just a quick flyby.

              It'll be 'spensive, but long trips *always* are.. May as well do it right, especially since arrival, at the best of times, would be something for the next generation.. Good practice for them in Legacy Equipment ;)

              1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

                The delta-V to get out of the ecliptic (even with a "throw me out" flyby of Jupiter as was done with the Ulysses probe is going to be enormous. Unless you want to do a 150y orbit around the sun.

    3. Fibbles

      About two days after it is actually found someone in the US will sue NASA to demand they divert New Horizons to pass it (ignoring the detail that it would be impossible to do, and that if it were possible they would already be doing it).

      You're crediting them with too much intelligence to be honest. Expect the demands for a fly-by to start before the the planet is even found.

  14. nilfs2

    "...erratic movement of Uranus"

    twerking planet

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Routine patrol...

    "This is vogon patrol Alpha reporting in. Nothing interesting to report this orbit.

    Although Jones WAS testing the new grappler on some asteroids, he seems to have gotten the hang of it now. Shouldn't cause any fuss."

  16. Sampler


    Do either of these guys have a parrot named Rupert?

  17. VinceH

    "Planets are supposed to form from the disk of matter that surrounds a young star, but the unusual orbit suggests that while the ninth planet might have started that way, it got knocked out of alignment, possibly by a major object like Jupiter, and sent on a new orbital trajectory."

    Or as a result of a roaming exoplanet being caught by the Sun's gravity and mixing things up a little.

    Based on some nonsense I put together for some maths course work a lifetime ago, that foreign planet is Neptune - and that same coursework suggests our mystery planet should be 11,580,000,000 Km from the Sun, which is notably less than 30,000,000,000 Km. (And if there's another one again, it'll be 22,500,000,000 Km).

    Of course, I'm all grown up now, so I know just how wrong I was back then.

    Or do I?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Do you think it got captured around about the time of the Late Massive Bombardment? The cause perhaps?

      1. VinceH

        No idea. I hadn't considered anything like that. It was just a GCSE thing I did in my very early 20s for fun (already had an O level from school), and I was specifically looking at Titius-Bode for the main part, then the Drake equation towards the end.

        The point was that Titius-Bode works as an approximation until you hit Neptune for the ninth position (the fifth is Ceres/the asteroid belt) - and then, of course, Pluto is wrong for the tenth.

        Take Neptune out though, and Pluto is in the right place for the ninth value in the sequence - so I suggested Neptune didn't originate hereabouts. (If memory serves, I suggested that its arrival could be one explanation for Uranus' axial tilt - not as an ongoing thing, but simply that it had an effect when it came too close, before finding itself in a more stable orbit.)

        The two distances in my previous post are therefore 10th and 11th.

        Edit: I think I may also have suggested it caused a larger body in fifth position to break up and become the asteroid belt - though these days I believe the consensus is that there isn't enough material there for it to have formed a planet to start with.

        OTOH, perhaps that's because the missing material ended up scattered more widely, and some of it may have been the material in the bombardment. And if this theorised new planet has such an odd orbital plane, maybe it caused that as well. :)

        Edit again: I found the file with that coursework on a while back, but didn't have the right software to read it. I do have the software now, so just need to find the file again. It'd be fun to read it again, and perhaps tidy it up/shorten it - and if necessary fix some of the out of date info - and throw it on my blog or something.

  18. x 7

    anyone managed to work out what the orbital periodicity is?

    Does it tie in with the Earth's regular global extinction events?

  19. Stevie


    When do we vote to change "astronomer" to "dwarf scientist"?

  20. Winkypop Silver badge

    Plan 9 from outer space!


    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Plan 9 from outer space!

      I wonder where Ed Wood is now that we need him. We need the Solobonite now just in case.

  21. Steven Roper

    Doesn't surprise me

    I've long argued that there must be a large gas giant pottering around the Kuitper Belt. I could even suggest where to start looking for it - south of the the ecliptic plane, a long way south.


    Because I've noticed that every single bloody long-period comet that has passed this planet in my lifetime - from Kohoutek to ISON - seems to come in from the south, swings around the Sun and thus reserves its most spectacular tail display exclusively for the Northern Hemisphere, with some even passing directly over the North Pole. It's almost as if the comets have all agreed that us pesky Australians are never to see a post-perihelion cometary skyshow, ever.

    Which suggests to me, that if all these comets are coming from the south, swinging around the sun and exiting over the north, that something big, far out and far south in the Kuitper belt, could be gravitationally kicking them into the solar system from that direction.

    So that's where I'd start looking for Planet IX!

  22. Christopher Lane

    My choice of name...


    About time we had a bit of Norse mythology.

  23. eldakka Silver badge

    This explains a lot

    So we have an planet on a very elliptical orbit of a period of around 20k years.

    This explains where Atlantis and the Greek Gods came from!

    Since the orbit is highly elliptical, for most of it's 20k year orbit it's way, way out there. But, at its closest approach to the sun, for a period of 1k or 2k years, it's close enough for the advanced civilizations on it to travel to earth in their space ships.

    I hypothesize that the last time this happened around 4,000BC to about 2,000BC. And this is where our legends of Atlantis and the Greek and other Gods come from. They were visitors from this planet, and as we know, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. And these being wowed our ancestors and had a bit of fun, pretending to be Gods and whatnot.

    And in earlier visitations, they seeded the Earth, so we are in fact their descendants, which is why they look like us.

    1. Any mouse Cow turd

      Re: This explains a lot

      And for the other 18000 years of their orbit they sit about on their cold, dark, frigid planet freezing their knackers off dreaming of their next chance for a bit of sun, sand &sangria.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: This explains a lot

        The way things are going, the sangria will be somewhat radioactive next time 'round.

  24. Laurel Kornfeld

    If there is a large planet out there, it is NOT the ninth planet but more like the 15th. In referring to this potential object as "Planet Nine," Brown is being extremely disingenuous by portraying his view of the solar system and planet definition as THE view when this is far from the case. He is once again promoting his obsession that he somehow "killed" planet Pluto.

    It is unfortunate that the media repeat his position without acknowledging the reality is that the IAU definition is just one among many currently in use.

    Numerous planetary scientists continue to reject the controversial IAU planet definition, which was adopted by only four percent of the organization, most of whom were not planetary scientists but other types of astronomers. That petition was immediately rejected by hundreds of professional astronomers, who reject the notion that an object has to clear its orbit to be a planet.

    Brown deliberately chose the term "ninth planet" knowing it would be repeated ad nauseam by the media, most of whom simply rewrite what is written in the press release.

    Dwarf planets ARE planets too, and their discovery means that far more than two full planets have been discovered in the last two centuries. The solar system's current planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris--and counting.

  25. JJKing

    Maybe call it Real Pluto and make everyone happy.

    1. hplasm

      re:Maybe call it Real Pluto and make everyone happy.

      That makes me sad.

      How about Pluto Zero?

      1. Lord Raa

        Re: re:Maybe call it Real Pluto and make everyone happy.

        New Pluto?

        Pluto Max?

        1. Graham Cunningham

          Re: re:Maybe call it Real Pluto and make everyone happy.

          Plutwo ?

  26. Yugguy


    I have seen the dark universe yawning,

    Where the black planets roll without aim;

    Where they roll in their horror unheeded, without knowledge or lustre or name.

  27. Putters

    Well, that answers an earlier Reg question ...


    The answer would appear to be a resounding NO.

  28. Dr Kerfuffle

    How about Klendathu? (from Starship Troopers) !

    If it is full of nasty insects the size of cars, then Klendathu would be a good name.

    I was thinking Vulcan, but that implies a hot planet. Kronos might be good.

    Mind you, if they are looking for a gas giant, they should check out my mother in law first (with apologies to Bernard Manning) :-)


  29. Anonymous Coward


    Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), confirmation of the existence of a large, previously unknown trans-Neptunian planet will bolster the so-called "hyper-dimensional physics" of Richard Hoagland et al. Some parts of the scientific community breathed a collective sigh of relief when NASA's WISE planetary survey spacecraft failed to find any large trans-Neptunian bodies as their existence was a core prediction of the Hoaglandites' theories.

    Given, though, that WISE (if I recall correctly) was supposed to be able to detect a body the size of Jupiter at a distance of up to 1 light year, one wonders why it failed to detect Nibiru/Asgard/Gandalf/Bob.

    1. Philip Teale

      Re: Hoagwash?

      Well, considering that this new hypothetical planet is estimated to be 10 times the size of the Earth, and given that Jupiter is approximately 300 times the size of the Earth, it's unlikely WISE was able to see planets 1/30 of the size of Jupiter

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hoagwash?

        >it's unlikely WISE was able to see planets 1/30 of the size of Jupiter

        Except that the new planet is much, much less than 1/30 of a light year away, so simple arithmetic suggests it should have been visible.

        1. Philip Teale

          Re: Hoagwash?

          Simple arithmetic is where I fall down ;-)

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: Hoagwash?

            But it's not even in the same orbital plane!

  30. A K Stiles

    Where is it?

    If their modelling has revealed that this planet should exist in a wildly eccentric orbit way off the normal ecliptic plane, based on the perturbations to Kuiper Belt objects, surely it has also predicted, fairly specifically (in astronomical terms at any rate) whereabouts in its orbit it needed to be to cause those disturbances, so they should have a reasonable clue whereabouts it ought to be to start looking?

    (Haven't read the academic article, just the Reg one).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where is it?

      I was also thinking this. If they were able to simulate it and it matched the data that they have they must know close to where it is as they should have the current accurate data on the positions of everything in their simulation. Only if their data isn't accurate or complete, therefore the simulation and results which do not actually represent the current movements. Only one that provides general movement that matches the overall data they have collected would they find it difficult to predict its current location, but that would also mean that their simulation could not be trusted also, as it didn't actually simulate and match the movements actually recorded.

      But I'm not an astrophysicist, and don't work in creating simulations.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The Kuiper belt was the result of it's collisional last visit to our yard, and possibly a fragment of it caused our earth strike that formed our moon theory?

    if small comets can have massive irregular orbits then so could a bloody big comet / planet

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps

      Not at all, the Kuiper belt is there just because and the proto-Eart-Moon collision has nothing to do with anything except the fact that the Solar System was not yet particularly stable back then.

  32. Matthew 17

    is the solar system therefore much bigger (than previously thought)?

    The irregularities in Neptune's orbit always suggested there must be something very big further out, when they found Pluto and the rest of the TNO's they seemed to be happy that they had the explanation. But if they've concluded again that there must be something really big out there but further out, then does that therefore mean that Voyager isn't in interstellar space, i.e the influence of the Sun stretches out far enough for this Nibiru planet to maintain an orbit rather than just drift off into space itself?

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: is the solar system therefore much bigger (than previously thought)?

      Well NASA said that Voyager had experienced an event whereby they thought Voyager had exited the "safety" of the solar system and was now on the fringe of interstellar space. I think they then backtracked on that, but that's the last I heard.

      The problem is, if this Nibiru/Ziggy Stardust/Bowie/Gruber/Lemmy/Big Bloody Dwarf planet is in it's own orbit going along a Y-axis instead of an X-axis, it could very well be the case that Voyager has still left interstellar space. If this planet is on the X-axis of the solar system, then it still has a long way to go.

      If only they knew then what we know now, and they could have sent the other Voyager spacecraft after it. Oh well!

  33. Ru'

    I'm a bit late, but can we just call it Urelbow please. They messed up by not calling Pluto this, and therefore had to downgrade it.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Planet 9 3/4: The magical planet.

  35. AndrewDu

    Discovered using computer models? Uh-oh!

    But then I guess these guys are real scientists, not climate "scientists", so perhaps we can trust them.

  36. Pedigree-Pete


    Since the Periodic Table people aren't listening may I suggest Lemmy or Bowie or Fry. :)

    1. wolfetone Silver badge


      Is Stephen Fry dead now as well?

  37. Yesnomaybe


    I mean.... You know.... WTF?

  38. This post has been deleted by its author

  39. GrumpyWorld


    ..since it's not a dwarf...

  40. mix

    All the old quiz questions are right again?

    So what is the answer to how many planets are in the solar system now? Trivial Pursuiters everywhere will be sooo confused...

  41. Graham Bartlett

    A giant eccentric ball of gas?

    But surely we know where that is - he and his wig are going for the Republican nomination, after all.

  42. 0laf

    I suppose this could have been a planet ejected from the inner solar system or even a captured nomad planet.

    I think we must reinstate Pluto to planet status just because should this one prove to be real we'll need to call it Planet X.

    But if you want a real name what about - Tartarus

    Tartarus in ancient Greek mythology, is the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans

  43. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    How about....

    Discordia or Eris considering the unknown chaotic nature of the planet (well sort of... considering they've figured out it's mass and probable orbit)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about....

      Considering that we have Chtulhu-themed stuff on Pluto now, may I suggest "The Thing at the Doorstep"

  44. fignewton

    What about the 'Student'

    Seems like some tribute should be accorded the 'Student' whose initial discovery of unexpected multi-body disturbances led the researchers to investigate the origin of the phenomena.

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