Planet Nine Just Got An Unexpected New Team of Hunters
Feb 17 2017 by Michele Stevens
They are asking for your help in the search, using a new citizen-science website called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. The cool thing about it, you won't have to leave the comfort of your living room.
This now hypothetical Neptune-sized planet is orbiting about 19 billion miles away from the sun, and NASA wants your help finding it. The mission was renamed the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE).
Ever since Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006, astronomers have been eager to find Planet 9 - an elusive world predicted to be floating somewhere around the edge of our solar system.
Research group Zooniversesaid stargazers will need to sift through lots of false positives, which are not real objects in space.
But NASA has repeatedly said there is no evidence Nibiru exists.
No one has actually spotted this so-called "Planet Nine" as yet, but researchers have shown that something is tugging at the objects in the Kuiper belt in a way that can't be explained by the eight planets we know of.
The website will also help citizen scientists find any brown dwarfs that might be relatively close our sun.
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Astronomers presented evidence of the existence of icy Planet 9 in January 2016, estimating that the planet takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete a full rotation around the sun. Glowing objects are expected to be very large just like Neptune or small like brown dwarfs. It was then reactivated in 2013 and given a new mission assisting NASA's efforts to identify potentially hazardous near-Earth objects (NEOs), which are asteroids and comets on orbits that bring them into the vicinity of Earth's orbit.
Whether the planet is found or not, Backyard Worlds should help speed up the process in some way. The space agency believes releasing the images to the public will help narrow down the search for Planet Nine. "These artifacts can easily fool our image processing software".
Above: Previously known brown dwarf WISE 0855-0714 is seen here in this Backyard World flipbook as a moving orange dot at upper left. Pluto was discovered by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh in 1930.
These are short animations that show how small patches of the sky changed over several years. Moving objects flagged by participants will be prioritized by the science team for follow-up observations by professional astronomers. Participants will share credit for their discoveries in any scientific publications that results from the project.
Besides Arizona State University, Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 is a collaboration between NASA, University of California Berkeley, American Museum of Natural History in NY, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and the Zooniverse, a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators who collectively develop and manage citizen science projects on the internet.
Backyard Worlds is a collaboration between NASA, the American Museum of Natural History, Arizona State University, UC Berkeley, the Space Telescope Science Institute and Zooniverse.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages and operates WISE, part of NASA's Explorers Program.