In 2016 year scientists from the California Institute of Technology presented evidence for Planet Nine, a Neptune-mass unseen “planetary object” in a projected elliptical orbit of about 40 billion to 140 billion miles, from our Sun.  That is 10 times farther from our Sun than Pluto and about 10 Earth masses.  One of the many mysteries of this very distant theorized planet, is how could it have ended up in such a distant orbit. from the Sun.

The Caltech group theorized the existence of Planet 9, based on unexpected distributions of the orbits found for the trans-Neptunian objects (TNO) of the Kuiper belt, placing a planetary object inside of our Solar System.  Then  scientists from the Canadian-French-Hawaiian project OSSOS threw significant shade on the Planet 9 hypothesis.  They detected biases in their own observations of the orbits of the trans-Neptunian objec (TNOs), which had been systematically directed towards the same regions of the sky as the Caltech group.  The OSSOS scientists believe the Caltech group, may have had the same observational bias error problems, and challenged the ‘true’ findings could be accounted for by a random distribution of orbits.

Now, however, two astronomers from the Complutense University of Madrid have used a new approach to study a unique type of trans-Neptunian objects: the distant ones.  Using a new technique, less exposed to observational bias, the astronomers studied extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNOs), located at average distances greater than 150 AU and that never cross Neptune’s orbit.  The distances from their nodes to the Sun have been analyzed using calculations and data mining, and support the Caltach findings, that there is a planet beyond Pluto.

The Complutense University of Madrid authors have established that the nodes of the 28 ETNOs evaluated  and the 24 distant Centaurs (small icy objects that orbits the Sun between Jupiter and Neptune) with average lengths from the Sun of more than 150 AU are amassed in specific ranges of distances from the Sun;  The authors have established a correlation, where there shouldn’t be one, between the positions of the nodes and the inclination, one of the parameters which defines the orientation of the orbits of these icy objects in space.

“Assuming that the ETNOs are dynamically similar to the comets that interact with Jupiter, we interpret these results as signs of the presence of a planet that is actively interacting with them in a range of distances from 300 to 400 AU”, says De la Fuente Marcos,  one of the authors of the paper, published in the journal ‘MNRAS: Letters’.   He goes on to conclude: “We believe that what we are seeing here cannot be attributed to the presence of observational bias”.