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The papers offer new details about the suspected nature and location of the planet, which has been the subject of an intense international search ever since Batygin and Brown's 2016 announcement.
The first, titled "Orbital Clustering in the Distant Solar System," was published in The Astronomical Journal on January 22. The Planet Nine hypothesis is founded on evidence suggesting that the clustering of objects in the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy bodies that lies beyond Neptune, is influenced by the gravitational tugs of an unseen planet. It has been an open question as to whether that clustering is indeed occurring, or whether it is an artifact resulting from bias in how and where Kuiper Belt objects are observed.
Bias - Clustering - Brown - Batygin - Method
To assess whether observational bias is behind the apparent clustering, Brown and Batygin developed a method to quantify the amount of bias in each individual observation, then calculated the probability that the clustering is spurious. That probability, they found, is around one in 500.
"Though this analysis does not say anything directly about whether Planet Nine is there, it does indicate that the hypothesis rests upon a solid foundation," says Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy.
Paper - Planet - Nine - Hypothesis - Review
The second paper is titled "The Planet Nine Hypothesis," and is an invited review that will be published in the next issue of Physics Reports. The paper provides thousands of new computer models of the dynamical evolution of the distant solar system and offers updated insight into the nature of Planet Nine, including an estimate that it is smaller and closer to the sun than previously suspected. Based on the new models, Batygin and Brown -- together with Fred Adams and Juliette Becker (BS '14) of the University of Michigan -- concluded that Planet Nine has a mass of about five times that of the...
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