The scientists used mathematical models and computer simulations to map out the hypothetical planet’s orbit after finding abnormal alignments of six objects in the Kuiper Belt suggesting that a larger object’s gravity was pulling them.
The Kuiper Belt is a ring of icy objects located beyond the orbit of Neptune. Within it are several thousand celestial bodies, several of which have their own moons.
Results also showed that its mass is probably five to 10 times the mass of Earth.
These new estimates suggest that the planet is closer and potentially brighter than previously thought, making it easier to detect in the coming years.
In a second paper published in the Astronomical Journal, the same group of researchers calculated the percentage of potential bias of their observations. Results showed the probability was just one in 500.
In a Caltech press release, Konstantin Batygin, one of the lead researchers of both papers said, quote, ‘The prospect of one day seeing real images of Planet Nine is absolutely electrifying. Although finding Planet Nine astronomically is a great challenge, I’m very optimistic that we will image it within the next decade.’