TECH

You Can Now Help NASA Find The Mysterious Planet Nine

It would be the discovery of the century.

16/02/2017 11:13 GMT | Updated 16/02/2017 11:13 GMT

In the depths of our solar system lies a ninth planet ten times the size of Earth – or so goes the theory.

Now astronomers at Arizona State University (ASU) want to prove it, and they need your help to do so.

A new website called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 invites citizen-scientists to examine images captured by NASA’s WISE telescope.

CALTECH/R HURT

Launched in 2009, WISE has mapped the night sky many times, detecting infrared light from planets and brown dwarfs.

“This sensitivity to infrared light makes WISE uniquely suited for discovering Planet 9, if it exists,” an ASU spokesperson said in a release.

But there’s a catch. Nearly 750 million individual sources in the sky have been captured by WISE.

Planet 9 may be among them, but ASU needs participants to search through the WISE imagery to try to find it.

NASA

Adam Schneider, an astronomer at ASU, said humans have one trick that computers can’t yet match:

“People who join in the Backyard Worlds search bring a unique skill to the search: the human ability to recognize movement.”

Last summer, researchers at Warwick University predicted that if Planet 9 does is exist, it will ultimately cause chaos, rewriting the death of the solar system.

Astronomers have predicted that the planet could be found as soon as the end of next winter.

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