Arizona State University seeks public’s help in finding ninth planet

Feb 20, 2017, 5:00 AM
(Flickr/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)...
(Flickr/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
(Flickr/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

PHOENIX — Arizona State University is searching for the ninth planet in the solar system, and they want you to help find it.

Astronomer Adam Schneider with the university’s School of Earth and Space Exploration is heading a new citizen-science website called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9.

(Courtesy: ASU)

(Courtesy: ASU)

“We have data that covers the entire sky,” he said. “For one person, or even a small group of people, to try and look through all of those images would take a very long time.”

So Schneider and his team want your help in finding the solar system’s ninth planet.

The website allows anyone to search through photos and help find the elusive planet and anything else of interest, like a brown dwarf.

The images were captured with a telescope called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer — or WISE. The telescope captured hundreds of thousands of photos that show nearly 750 million individual sources in the sky.

Scientists believe the solar system’s ninth planet is hidden between Earth’s sun and the nearest stars and, if the theories are correct, Schneider said, Planet Nine could be buried somewhere in that data.

“Really, anybody can log in and have the chance of this huge kind of discovery,” Schneider said, adding “this is the same way that [astronomer] Clyde Tombaugh found Pluto.”

For those who are lucky enough to come across the next big planet, they will get credit for their discovery, Schneider  said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

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Arizona State University seeks public’s help in finding ninth planet