“Planet Nine from Outer Space”
Saturday 4:00 pm : Mitchell Physics Lecture Halls (MPHY 203 – MPHY 205)
While the occasional “Bring back Pluto!” t-shirt can still be found in the used-shirt bin at the store, most of the world has moved on after the raucous debates about the status of Pluto and its fellow dwarf planets. Astronomers, however, have been continuing to study the outer edges of the solar system to try to understand all that this region can tell us. One of the most startling revelations of the past decade is that there is strong evidence that there is a distant planet lurking in the distant solar system. This undiscovered object is estimated to be 5000 times more massive than Pluto, making it the true ninth planet of the solar system. I’ll talk about the history of outer solar system discoveries, the evidence that led us to hypothesize the existence of this planet, and the prospects for directly spotting Planet Nine in — we hope — the very near future
About Michael Brown
Mike Brown is a Professor of Planetary Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology where he teaches classes from introductory physics to the science of the solar system. He is a native of Huntsville, Alabama, where he grew up listening to the tests of the Saturn rockets preparing to go to the moon, and he received his undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley. He and his research group spend their time searching for and studying the most distant objects in the solar system and drinking coffee.