by Staff Writers
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
The Australian National University (ANU) is launching a search for a new major planet within our solar system, inviting anyone around the world with access to the Internet to help make the historic discovery.
Anyone who helps find the so-called Planet X will work with ANU astronomers to validate the discovery through the International Astronomical Union.
ANU astrophysicist Dr. Brad Tucker is leading the project, which is being launched by Professor Brian Cox during a BBC Stargazing Live broadcast from the ANU Siding Spring Observatory.
"We have the potential to find a new planet in our solar system that no human has ever seen in our two-million-year history," said Dr. Tucker from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Dr. Tucker said astronomers had long discussed the likelihood of a another major planet on the outer edges of the solar system, but nothing had been found yet.
"Planet X is predicted to be a super Earth, about 10 times the mass and up to four times the size of our planet. It's going to be cold and far away, and about 800 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. It's pretty mysterious," he said.
The ANU project will allow the general public to use a website to search hundreds of thousands of images taken by the ANU SkyMapper telescope at Siding Spring.
SkyMapper will take 36 images of each part of the southern sky, which is relatively unexplored, and identify changes occurring within the universe.
Finding Planet X involves volunteers scanning the SkyMapper images online to look for differences, Dr. Tucker said.
"It's actually not that complicated to find Planet X. It really is spot the difference. Then you just click on the image, mark what is different and we'll take care of the rest," Dr. Tucker said.
He said he expected people to also find and identify other mystery objects in space, including asteroids, comets and Kuiper belt objects like Pluto.
"If you find an asteroid or dwarf planet, you can't actually name it after yourself," Dr. Tucker said.
"But you could name it after your wife, brother or sister. We need to follow all of the rules set by the International Astronomical Union."
Dr. Tucker said modern computers could not match the passion of millions of people.
"It will be through all our dedication that we can find Planet X and other things that move in space," he said.
Co-researcher and head of SkyMapper Dr. Chris Wolf said SkyMapper was the only telescope in the world that maps the whole southern sky.
"Whatever is hiding there that you can't see from the north, we will find it," Dr. Wolf said.
From 28 to 30 March at 8 pm London time, BBC Stargazing Live hosted by Professor Cox and comedian Dara O Briain is expected to be viewed by around five million people.
The ABC will broadcast an Australian Stargazing Live program from Siding Spring from 4 to 6 April, hosted by Professor Cox and Julia Zemiro.
SkyMapper is a 1.3-metre telescope that is creating a full record of the southern sky for Australian astronomers.
Editor's note: the original reference to Planet 9 in this release has been changed to Planet X. IAU is soon going to reverse the ridiculous idea that Pluto is not a planet. The reality is there are probably a 1000 Pluto-class planets beyond Neptune. Solar System science is very complex and only now are we beginning to appreciate the complexity of how stable solar systems like our own form and evolve. And one more thing ... that utterly offensive term Citizen Scientist is a banned word along with Citizen Journalist at SpaceDaily.com and was removed from the ANU report.
Baltimore MD (SPX) Mar 21, 2017
Johns Hopkins University scientist Kirby Runyon wants to make one thing clear: Regardless of what one prestigious scientific organization says to the contrary, Pluto is a planet. So, he says, is Europa, commonly known as a moon of Jupiter, and so is the Earth's moon, and so are more than 100 other celestial bodies in our solar system that are denied this status under the prevailing definition of ... read more
The million outer planets of a star called Sol
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