Saturday, March 29, 2014

Could 'Planet X' Still be Lurking Out There?

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Could 'Planet X' Still be Lurking Out There?

By Nola Taylor Redd

     The hunt for the hypothetical "Planet X" has been fruitless so far, but that doesn't mean astronomers are calling it off.

A new analysis of data collected by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft revealed no sign of the mysterious Planet X hypothesized to exist in the outer solar system. But scientists are keeping up the search for a planet or dim star far from the sun.

ANALYSIS: Is 'Planet X 2.0' Lurking Beyond Pluto's Orbit?

"I think astronomers will continue to search for a distant companion to the sun with every new, deeper survey," Kevin Luhman of the University of Pennsylvania told by email. Luhman, who studies low-mass stars and "failed stars" known as brown dwarfs, recently published the results of his search for Planet X using WISE.

"We have a natural desire to better determine the contents of our solar system," Luhman said. "There's a vast volume of space in the outer solar system, and we would like to know what's out there."

And a recent find may give a boost to the hunt for Planet X. On Wednesday (March 26), researchers announced they had discovered a dwarf planet orbiting the sun in a distant, largely unexplored region known as the inner Oort Cloud. . . .

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