A team of astronomers from Mexico and Sweden think they may have discovered a massive new planet at the outer reaches of our solar system.
If it’s as far away as they think it is, the planet is about 1.5 times the size of Earth, however there is also a chance that it’s closer than they think, and a lot smaller. If it is indeed small, it’s likely to be a little smaller than Pluto, and a little further away, but there is still the chance it could be a big ol’ planet out towards Alpha Centauri.
In two pre-print publications, the researchers describe how that they saw ‘a new blackbody point source’ which appears to be moving in conjunction with the Alpha Centauri star system. The scientists argue that, “the object is most likely part of the solar system, in prograde motion, albeit at a distance too far to be detectable at other wavelengths.”
The object – which one of the teams named ‘Gna’ – could be a Super Earth, about 300 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun – six times further out than Pluto however, it could also be a brown dwarf, roughly 20,000 AU from the Sun.
The two publications have not been ‘peer reviewed’ by other scientists, and experts remain highly sceptical of the findings with Mike Brown of Caltech saying:
If it is true that ALMA accidentally discovered a massive outer solar system object in its tiny tiny tiny field of view that would suggest there are something like 200,000 Earth sized planets in the outer solar system. Which, um, no. Even better: I just realised that this many Earth-sized planets existing would destabilise the entire solar system and we would all die.
Seems like he doesn’t think too much of the research – imagine how stupid he’ll look when the entire solar system collapses in on itself. Won’t be laughing then will you.