Earlier this year, researchers announced that they’d found evidence of a giant, icy planet that may (or may not) be orbiting in an unusual path far beyond the orbit of Pluto. It became known as “Planet Nine.” Researchers believe it could be up to 10 to 15 times the size of Earth, with a very long orbit that takes it far beyond the Sun before eventually circling closer to the other eight planets in our solar system.
They believes ‘Planet Nine’ appears to be responsible for tilting the sun.
This unusual tilt of the sun has been known since the mid-1800s, these astronomers said, but it’s not often discussed because no one has a clue what causes it. Could a 9th planet be the cause? Elizabeth Bailey, who is a graduate student at Caltech, led a study suggesting that a large and distant planet may be adding a wobble to the solar system, giving the appearance that the sun is tilted slightly.
All of the planets, including Earth, orbit in a flat plane with respect to the Sun. But that plane rotates on a six-degree angle with respect to the Sun’s equator, a misalignment which has left astronomers scratching their heads for decades.
“It’s such a deep-rooted mystery and so difficult to explain that people just don’t talk about it,” said Prof Mike Brown, who made the original discovery about Planet Nine.
Planet Nine takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to orbit the Sun and it would take 20 years to send a probe to find out if the planet actually exists. However it could be spotted from Earth using the world’s largest telescopes – such as the twin 10-metre telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Subaru Telescope, all on Maunakea in Hawaii.