Challenging the premise of a larger “Planet Nine” claim, a team of scientists has claimed that it created using unrepresentative data. However, those who argue for a larger object hidden at the outer edge of the solar system are holding their line. The idea of an extra object orbiting the sun but just getting heat by it is an old thing, and many scientists have tried to make it a case. The world of astronomy only began to take it seriously in 2016. Professor Mike Brown of Caltech, whose Twitter handle is @plutokiller, has been instrumental in reducing the number of planets stuck in it, and Professor Konstantin Batygin has presented evidence that six trans-Neptune objects (TNOs) have surrounded their orbits as if they were eating something. As this pair suggested, it was an object with a mass 5-10 times that of Earth that we have not yet noticed.
Evidence has since mixed. On the one hand, attempts to perceive Planet 9 have so far come empty-handed, on the other hand, more TNOs have found with orbits consistent with those drawn by Planet 9.
However, skeptics have argued that we are only searching for TNOs in smaller regions of the sky, so it is not surprising that the ones we have seen have similar orbits. We can only see most TNOs when they are near the closest point to the sun, which biases the sample from the start, even without exploring limited areas. Brown and Batting tried to account for these biases in a survey of TNOs, but not everyone was convinced that they had succeeded.
Therefore, Kevin Napier, a PhD student at the University of Michigan, and a large multi-institutional team examined which parts of the sky studied TNO in the sky. Specifically, they considered three search projects that received 14 TNOs among them. In a study published in the Journal of Planetary Science (preprint on arXiv.org), Napier and co-authors report on TNO detection to do more with telescopes where they were viewing (and can see deeply without interference) than with distant gravitational effects.
The results do not completely rule out Plant 9. To confirm or reject this we will need a larger sample of TNOs. Instead, we have something that can explain in terms of human past thinking. Napier thinks this makes Planet 9 redundant, but Batygin does not see it as a change.
“As a result of where we look and when we look,” he told Napier Science magazine. “No more models needed to fit the data.” Batygin disagrees, saying Napier’s work cannot distinguish between clustering and distributing a random TNO. Planet Nine is not the only theory that would lead to scrapheap if Napier were correct. A planetary black hole has also proposed. As surprising as these words may be, it will explain why we do not spot it, but the idea is also unnecessary if there is no clustering to explain.
One of the reasons for finding enough TNOs to settle the question one way or another is that the Vera Rubin Observatory is being built, for which an inaugural set of 2023, Starlink is allowing. We just have to be patient.