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Scientists see hints of another unseen planet

Distant planet
An artist’s conception shows a hypothesized planet orbiting off the main plane of the solar system. The depicted orbits and planetary sizes are not shown to scale. (UA / LPL Illustration / Heather Roper)

Astronomers say they’ve found hints that an unseen planetary-mass object may lurk in the outer reaches of our solar system. And no, they’re not talking about Planet Nine, Planet X, Nibiru or any of the other previously hypothesized worlds out there.

Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory say their analysis points to an eight-degree tilt in the average planes of orbits for the most distant objects in the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy mini-worlds that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune.

“The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass,” Volk said in a news release. “According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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