Australian National University researchers roped in amateur stargazers to hunt for a previously undiscovered planet in the solar system. The planet is believed to be around ten times the mass of the Earth.

Citizen scientists were asked to classify images captured by the ANU SkyMapper telescope. In just three days, the citizen scientists managed to achieve four years of scientific work.

Over 60,000 people participated in the initiative, classifying over four million objects. The minor planets of Chiron and Comacina were also detected as part of the search. Over 12,000 classifications were made by just one of the participants. As a result of the search, four objects have been found which can potentially be the ninth planet of the solar system. Telescopes around the world will turn study the unidentified objects, to confirm if they are planets, asteroids or dwarf planets.

Dr Brad Tucker, lead researcher of the project has indicated that the search was able to “clear” portions of space where the existence of a planet can be ruled out. Trucker said “We’ve managed to rule out a planet about the size of Neptune being in about 90 per cent of the southern sky out to a depth of about 350 times the distance the Earth is from the Sun.”

The search is continuing, and those interested in participating, can do so at www.planet9search.org.

Publish date: April 3, 2017 12:07 pm| Modified date: April 3, 2017 12:07 pm

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