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WRITER FUEL: Planet Nine, Where Are You?

Planet Nine - Deposit Photos

Astronomers searching for our solar system’s elusive Planet Nine — a theoretical world that may lurk deep in a cloud of icy rocks far beyond the orbit of Neptune — have come up short once again.

In a recent paper published Dec. 23, 2021 in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers pored over six years of telescope data in an attempt to identify potential signs of Planet Nine in the southern sky. Captured with the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile between 2013 and 2019, the observations covered about 87% of the sky visible from the Southern Hemisphere.

While the team identified more than 3,000 candidate light sources located between 400 and 800 astronomical units (AU) away (that’s 400 to 800 times the distance between Earth and the sun), none of those candidates could be confirmed as planets.

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