Planet X also called Nibiru has made its place amongst the most sought after celestial bodies in the recent years. Billions of dollars are being spent on researches, spacecraft, telescopes and observatories every year to find the unknown. A planet that if ever comes close to earth can shatter planet earth. Planet X (Nibiru) has such an enormous orbit that it can take almost 20,000 years to revolve the Sun.

#1. When did the search for planet x begin?

In 1781, Uranus was discovered and astronomers realised that the orbit of Uranus was perturbated, this led the astronomers to begin the search for Planet X, the planet that would be influencing the orbit of Uranus. The perturbation in the orbit of a planet can be caused when this planet undergoes gravitational effects of another. For this to occur it is necessary that the planet that is causing this disturbance has a mass to the point of being able to unbalance the orbit of the other.

In 1846, then, the planet X was discovered that caused the perturbations in the orbits of Uranus. Through mathematical formulas, the telescopes were directed to the place where mathematicians and astronomers indicated that Planet X would be and so Neptune was discovered. The theory was confirmed that one planet would be interfering in the orbit of another. However, through more observations astronomers realised that Neptune also suffered perturbations in its orbit. Thus began another search for another “planet X” beyond the orbit of Neptune.

In 1894, in the United States, Lowell Observatory was built with the objective of observing the planet Mars and discover other celestial bodies in the Solar System, more specifically the disturbing Neptune. And the term “Planet X” was first used, around 1905, by the mathematician and amateur astronomer Percival Lowell, owner of the Lowell Observatory.

In 1930, the planet Pluto was discovered through observations made by the Lowell Observatory, which was imagined to be the disturbing Planet X of Neptune. However, around 1950 some astronomers realized that Pluto would not have enough mass to cause a noticeable disturbance in the orbit of Neptune.

Pioneer 10 probe

Fig 1: Concept Art of Probe 10

In March 1972, NASA launched the Pioneer 10 probe, which aimed to explore the planets outside the solar system, but some rumours of US government officials indicated that the probe’s purpose was in fact, find the planet x or at least have an indication of where to look for it.

The last radio contact with the Pioneer 10 probe occurred in January 2003, it probably stopped communicating because of the lack of power of the radio transmitter at a distance of 12 billion kilometres from Earth.

In 1979, through observations of one of the moons of the Pluto, it became even more clear that it would not have the mass necessary to disrupt the orbit of Neptune, given the mass of Pluto has approximately 60% of the Earth’s mass, and Neptune has much more mass.

Taking note of all the above facts and other studies done by astronomers, two astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin of Caltech University, announced in the year 2015 that they have solid evidence of Planet X’s existence.

#2. What is the evidence of Planet-X’s existence?

Fig 2: A predicted consequence of Planet Nine is that the second set of confined objects should also exist. These objects are forced into positions at right angles to Planet Nine and into orbits that are perpendicular to the plane of the solar system. Five known objects (blue) fit this prediction precisely.
Credit: Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC) [Diagram was created using WorldWide Telescope.]

The astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin have not yet observed the planet directly. They used some complex  mathematical models and computer simulations to explain how this Planet X is responsible for the change in the orbits of icy objects and debris are known as Kuiper Belt, in an issue of The Astronomical Journal. They made calculations which suggest that the orbit of Planet X is anti-aligned with those of the Kuiper Belt objects., and the planet itself lies in the same inclined plane of the Kuiper Belt objects. And according to Konstantin, it is the Planet X that keep the orbits of the Kuiper Belt objects from colliding with each other.

Mike Brown says “All those people who are mad that Pluto is no longer a planet can be thrilled to know that there is a real planet out there still to be found, now we can go and find this planet and make the solar system have nine planets once again.”

#3. Will Planet X ever collide with Earth?

If a planet of that size ever comes close to our planet, given the massive gravity of such a large planet, chances are it will bring in many asteroids towards our planet. Some theories suggest that the magnetosphere of the Earth, that already suffers effects of the magnetic field of the Sun, when undergoing effects of the magnetic field of Planet X would cause disturbances in the planet’s core, causing the magma to interact with the surface of the planet, increasing the temperature of the oceans and consequently global temperature.

Whether Planet X collides with our planet or comes close to our planet, it will surely cause some serious damage to our planet. However, if there is a Planet X and if someday a collision between our Earth and Planet X takes place, it will surely end every life form on our planet. It can also shatter our planet into pieces.

Today many space institutions are trying to confirm its existence. Maybe it is just a matter of time till it confronts humanity.