Scientists are claiming to have found more proof that a planet 10 times the size of Earth is lurking beyond Pluto.
The enigmatic ice planet is believed to be so massive that one year there would last around 20,000 Earth years.
Theories surrounding the mysterious Planet Nine came to light last year when scientists noticed a group of small planets called Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOS) behaving strangely.
California Institute of Technology researchers suggested that a massive planet’s gravitational pull might be warping their orbit.
If true, experts predict that Planet Nine would be 20 times the distance from the sun as our planet.
The claims sparked huge debate among the scientific community – and fueled several conspiracy theories that a fabled Planet Nibiru was about to come smashing into Earth.
Stargazers at Canadian-French-Hawaiian project OSSOS poured cold water over the research – claiming there were several cases of small planets behaving in this way across the universe.
But two astronomers from the Complutense University of Madrid recently published a study in the journal MNRAS: Letters, which indicates that there is a ninth planet.
They introduced a new technique, analyzing Extreme TNOS (ETNOS) at the point where the chance of interacting with other objects is highest.
Here, the ETNOs may experience a drastic change in their orbits or even a collision – indicating that a larger planet is influencing their movement.
“If there is nothing to perturb them, the nodes of these extreme trans-Neptunian objects should be uniformly distributed, as there is nothing for them to avoid, but if there are one or more perturbers, two situations may arise,” said co-author Carlos de la Fuente Marcos.
“One possibility is that the ETNOs are stable and in this case, they would tend to have their nodes away from the path of possible perturbers.”
“But if they are unstable they would behave as the comets that interact with Jupiter do, that is tending to have one of the nodes close to the orbit of the hypothetical perturber.”
By looking at how comets react with Jupiter, they found that the ETNOs are likely being manipulated by a huge object.
“Assuming that the ETNOs are dynamically similar to the comets that interact with Jupiter, we interpret these results as signs of the presence of a planet that is actively interacting with them in a range of distances from 300 to 400 AU,” added De la Fuente Marcos.
The discovery of Planet Nine comes with a grim warning.
It could destroy the solar system by causing devastating “death dance,” sending planets “pinballing” into outer space or plunging into the sun, astronomers have warned.
But the terrifying events won’t take place for another seven billion years, when the sun begins to die and the solar system collapses.