The potential existence of an undiscovered planet in our own solar system has intrigued astronomers for years.
Nobody knows exactly where it is, how big it is or if it even exists at all, but when researchers at the California Institute of Technology revealed in 2016 that the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system was a very real possibility, the hunt for this enigmatic new world began in earnest.
Believed to be up to ten times the mass of the Earth and with an orbital period of up to 20,000 years, Planet Nine, if it exists, will be situated somewhere beyond the orbit of Neptune.
Finding it, however, is like looking for a tiny fraction of a needle in a very big haystack.
Most recently, researchers conducted a study involving six years of telescope data in an attempt to find evidence that this enigmatic world really is out there.
Captured using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile, the observations covered 87% of the night sky visible from the Southern Hemisphere.
Despite identifying 3,000 potential candidate light sources within a relevant distance, however, the researchers were unable to conclusively confirm that any of them were planets.
While the findings may be a blow for those hoping to hear news of Planet Nine\’s discovery, the study does at least achieve something – it narrows down the parts of the sky that still need to be checked.
If Planet Nine really is out there, it is still possible that it will be found sometime in the near future.