Pluto saw its status as the ninth planet in our solar system stripped in 2006, a demotion that angered people worldwide. As it turns out, that reclassification may have been justified after all.
Michael E. Brown and fellow California Institute of Technology professor Konstantin Batygin presented evidence on Wednesday of the existence of a true ninth planet. Ironically enough, Brown is the man largely responsible for demoting Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet a decade ago.
It's worth clarifying that Brown and Batygin haven't actually located the new planet, having instead only inferred its presence based on the strange elliptical orbits of six known objects that orbit beyond Neptune.
The scientists say there's only a 0.007 percent chance that the clustering of objects is a coincidence. What they believe is happening is that a planet that has yet to be discovered with the mass of 10 Earths is influencing their orbits via gravitational pull.
Brown and Batygin prepared for the inevitable skepticism with months of computer simulations and detailed analyses of the orbits. After all, this isn't the first time people have claimed to find "Planet X" but what makes this different, Brown says, is simply that they're right.
Alessandro Morbidelli of the Côte d’Azur Observatory in France agrees, telling The New York Times that he believes they're onto something real and that he'd bet money on it.