Richard A. Lovett in Timberline Lodge, Oregon for National Geographic News Published May 11, 2012
Odd orbits of remote objects hint at unseen world, new calculations suggest.
An as yet undiscovered planet might be orbiting at the dark fringes of the solar system, according to new research.
Too far out to be easily spotted by telescopes, the potential unseen planet appears to be making its presence felt by disturbing the orbits of so-called Kuiper Belt objects, said Rodney Gomes, an astronomer at the National Observatory of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.
Kuiper Belt objects are small icy bodies—including some dwarf planets—that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune.
Once considered the ninth planet in our system, the dwarf planet Pluto, for example, is one of the largest Kuiper belt objects, at about 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) wide. Dozens of the other objects are hundreds of miles across, and more are being discovered every year.