As if Pluto didn’t feel bad enough about being demoted to a mere dwarf planet, astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin at the California Institute of Technology may have discovered another big planet beyond Pluto’s orbit, making it way more Pluto than Pluto ever was. In fact this new planet, dubbed “Planet Nine” (damn, sorry Pluto) is really, REALLY big coming in at 2 to 4 times bigger than Earth. Now, science is a weird endeavor that isn’t always cut-and-dry (unless you’re cutting dry ice) so scientists haven’t yet actually seen this planet, but they have inferred its existence via several highly advanced scientific means the explanation of which would boggle your mind, but let’s give it a shot…
Basically, they inferred its existence by studying a recently discovered group of dwarf planets in the outer solar system called “The Lollipop Guild.” Ha, ha! Just kidding. I have no idea what those dwarf planets are called, but astronomers were able to deduce the possible existence of Planet Nine by scrutinizing the motion of these dwarf planets. The’ve determined that the orbits of these dwarf planets appear to be influenced by the gravity of a large hidden planet. There was also lots and lots of math involved, but since I failed Algebra II in high school we won’t be getting into any of that.
Of course, ever the cautionary bunch, NASA warned not to get too excited as there could be other explanations for the observed motion of these dwarf planets. Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science at NASA reminds us to heed Carl Sagan’s words, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
What you’re all wondering is could this be the infamous Planet X or Nibiru we’ve long heard about? According to the legend (theory?) Nibiru is a large planet-sized object that is supposed to collide with Earth sometime in the early 21st Century. Given that the orbit of Planet Nine is well outside the orbit of Pluto, it’s a safe bet that Planet Nine will not be colliding with Earth. However, it may collide with Pluto which could start a massive planetary domino effect through the solar system wherein Mars ends up careening into Earth. Naturally, I have zero science to back up that claim, but let’s all go ahead and take it at face value, anyway. Panic!