NASA wants your help discovering a new 9th planet


Its possible existence is based off signals from the Kuiper belt. Most of those objects will all move together due to noise, but any planets or brown dwarfs will follow a different path. "Yet it must be extremely dim and hard to find".

Brown dwarfs are celestial bodies that are too small to be considered stars and are also too big to be considered planets. "By using Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, the public can help us discover more of these odd rogue worlds".

"There are just over four light-years between Neptune and Proxima Centauri, the nearest star, and much of this vast territory is unexplored", the project's lead researcher, Marc Kuchner of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a news release.

Astronomers expect the sun's neighborhood will contain many low-mass objects called brown dwarfs.

'Because there's so little sunlight, even large objects in that region barely shine in visible light.

Scientists are crossing their fingers that someone can confirm the existence of "Planet 9."

To search for undiscovered worlds, visit the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 website. Meisner thinks it's more likely that volunteers will find brown dwarfs in the solar neighborhood. "They have masses of less than 80 times that of Jupiter, because that's the point at which nuclear fusion begins and an object becomes by definition a star". Or it could be a nearby brown dwarf star, which would be another exciting discovery.

So how do astronomers find such objects in space?

The new website uses the data to search for unknown objects in and beyond our own solar system.

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WISE scanned the entire sky between 2010 and 2011, producing the most comprehensive survey at mid-infrared wavelengths now available.

The footage is from the agency's survey explorer mission a few years ago. The best way to discover them is through a systematic search of moving objects in WISE images.

Do you think Planet Nine exists?

But there's a snag: Images from WISE have captured almost 750 million individual sources in the sky. The movies highlight objects that have gradually moved across the sky. Citizen scientists will be asked to inspect images just like this to search for new objects in the solar neighborhood.

"Automated searches don't work well in some regions of the sky, like the plane of the Milky Way galaxy, because there are too many stars, which confuses the search algorithm", said Meisner, who last month published the results of an automated survey of 5 percent of the WISE data, which revealed no new objects. Pluto was discovered by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh in 1930.

Whether the planet is found or not, Backyard Worlds should help speed up the process in some way.

Participants will win a share of the credit in any scientific discoveries that the project brings to light. The space agency is looking to fulfill an amateur astronomer's dream - credit for the discovery of a new planet. This has allowed astronomers to search the images for faint, glowing objects that change position over time, which means they are relatively close to Earth.

This artist's concept illustrates a close-up view of a cool brown dwarf.

The "Backyard Worlds" website offers up millions of mini-movies that incorporate infrared imagery from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.