Science and Journalism in Society

Brandeis University JOUR 130B

Planet X: Exciting New Evidence For Its Existence

“There might be a ninth planet in the solar system after all, and it is not Pluto.” This sentence appeared as a headline in the The New York Times Science section on January 20, 2016.

A significant amount of scientific media, including Science Magazine, Scientific American and Nature News, all reported this exciting new scientific report in only a few hours.

In fact, the existence of a new planet next to Neptune,  namely, Planet X, has long been proposed.

According to the calculations, the planet should be nine times heavier than earth and have a size similar to Neptune.

However, some new evidence have just been found recently.

 

Firstly, where do these new evidence come from?

The answers are  Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, two planetary scientists,from Caltech.

Then, What are those evidence all about?

Astronomers observed 6 small bodies in distant orbitals. One thing which is extremely important here is that all these orbitals are tilted at similar angles “in the same quadrant of the solar system.” Statistically speaking, it is very hard to see this event happened randomly. In another word, the Planet X has a great possibility to exist.

Finally, What do we still need to confirm the ninth planet?

To answer this in a concise way: Find it!

We have to visually see it before make any step further. All the evidence we hold right now are indirect.

In a word, no solid confirmation can be made with only theoretical evidence, no matter how strong and persuasive they are.

 


The following video is a brief explanation of the new evidence from the Science Magazine.


 

Having many questions? Further reading…
Five quick questions and answers about Planet X by Scientific American:

5 Questions and Answers about the Proposed Ninth Planet

 


 

Sources:

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/feature-astronomers-say-neptune-sized-planet-lurks-unseen-solar-system

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/science/space/ninth-planet-solar-system-beyond-pluto.html?smid=tw-nytimesscience&smtyp=cur&_r=0

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strong-evidence-suggests-a-super-earth-lies-beyond-pluto1/

http://www.nature.com/news/evidence-grows-for-giant-planet-on-fringes-of-solar-system-1.19182

3 Comments

  1. Nice job finding a digestible format for presenting this news: Specifically, what we know and what we don’t know about Planet X. The writing could use a bit of copyediting to clean it up. And why all the words in bold?

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