The Australian National University (ANU) wants to find a new planet in the Solar System. Thus, they decided to ask amateur astronomers for help in this daring quest. They might be the first to spot a new cosmic entity hiding within the boundaries of our Solar System.
A Super-Earth could be hiding in the Solar System
This ambitious project to search for Planet 9 is led by an astrophysicist at ANU, Dr. Brad Tucker. He asks everybody who is passionate about astronomy and stargazing to get involved in the project and not miss the chance to be the first to discover the new planet.
He is excited about the prospect of the new cosmic body. They now have a potential to set eyes on a planet that no human has ever looked at during Earth’s history of two million years. In an official statement he offered on Monday, he described the potential planet.
“Planet 9 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.”
Astronomy enthusiasts can be part of the search
The project wants to involve “citizen scientists”, as the ANU researchers call them, in actual space research. However, it is not as complicated as it sounds. They will be allowed to browse through thousands of images taken by the Siding Spring telescope SkyMapper. They just have to look at the photos and point to anything that looks different.
Tucker described the process as a ‘spot the difference’ game. If they see something that did not appear in other photos or they think it is different, they just have to mark it. Then, the ANU scientists will look further on to see what the different spot is.
Besides a Planet 9, the amateur astronomers might identify other mysterious objects in space, such as comets, asteroids, or dwarf planets. If people indeed discover a new cosmic body, they will be able to name it – unfortunately, not after themselves. The name has to meet all conditions imposed by the International Astronomical Union.
Those who are interested in the project will have to wait for a few weeks. Then, Tucker and other ANU scientists will reveal more details about the quest of Planet 9.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons