Conspiracy theories claiming a hidden Planet Nine is orbiting the outer reaches of the solar system may be true, according to renowned astronomers.
For years, sky watchers have hunted for the invisible planet somewhere beyond Pluto.
The theory was first floated by experts at engineering and science institute Caltech in 2016 who reported the odd alignment and orbit of icy space rocks called ‘trans-Neptunian objects’ because they seemed to gather around the minor planet Neptune.
They suggested these objects may have been pulled out of orbiting the Sun by the gravitational pull of a yet to be revealed planet.
But after years of searching the skies, no one has managed to pinpoint the location of Planet Nine.
Math says Planet Nine is out there
Modelling the data pulled from observing the trans-Neptunian objects disclosed a planet four times larger than Earth with a mass of 10 times as much would be needed to account for the gravitational discrepancy.
The planet would travel a massive orbit on the frontiers of the solar system, taking between 10,000 and 20,000 years to go around the Sun.
Although the math says Planet Nine is circling the solar system, no one has managed to detect a physical presence.
“It’s not proof that Planet Nine exists,” Professor David Gerdes, an astronomer at the University of Michigan and a co-author on the new paper about the space quest.
“But I would say the presence of an object like this in our solar system bolsters the case for Planet Nine.”
Denying Planet Nine triggers too many riddles
NASA has also published research supporting the idea of a Planet Nine.
The paper explains that imagining Planet Nine solves a series of problems, but denying the existence of the world at the ends of the solar system creates a host of more riddles.
Dr Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at Caltech in Pasadena, who is leading the hunt for Planet Nine, said: “There are five different lines of observational evidence pointing to the existence of Planet Nine.
“If you were to remove this explanation and imagine Planet Nine does not exist, then you generate more problems than you solve.
“All of a sudden, you have five different puzzles, and you must come up with five different theories to explain them.”