Two Caltech scientists today (January 20th) revealed that they have evidence of a near Neptune sized body that is orbiting the sun in the outer reaches of the Solar System.
Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology released their results from months of detailed computer simulations and observations of the orbits of distant Kuiper belt objects.
Essentially, they noticed that the orbits of many distant Kuiper belt objects swing out in one direction, hinting at a possible large body, whose gravity may very well be influencing the orbits of these objects.
According to their calculations, the planet could very well be one to ten times more massive than Earth, but smaller than Neptune, and have an orbit that is up to twenty times larger and wider than the orbit of Neptune (which is ~30.1 AU (4.50×109 km)). This would be around six hundred times the distance from the Sun to Earth, and would take around 20,000 years to orbit the Sun.
Batygin and Brown published the results in The Astronomical Journal ; unlike the many crazier denizens of the internet who have claimed that a planet X (Or – Nibiru) exists, and that the scientific community is hiding the evidence, this work has been peer reviewed and scrutinised heavily (and is also a sign that scientists are not hiding any evidence of another planet as yet unannounced).
Alessandro Morbidelli a Planetary researcher from the Nice Observatory in France performed the peer review for the paper and has stated that the scientists have made a “very solid argument” for the existence of such a planet.
So, if such a planet does exist, why have we not seen it? The answer is pretty simple – the distance. Whilst nearly all of the Solar System planetary bodies are visible with small ground based telescopes, even smaller consumer telescopes – this planet is simply too far out to be able to view it. However, there are some telescopes that may be able to find the planet (such as Keck and Suburu in Hawaii), so given time we may have a view of the planet – if it does indeed exist.