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Astronomers Great Discovery - Planet 9

If you've ever wanted to be the first to discover something, you'll know it can be tricky.

But now, you really can be the first to make an important discovery. A huge one, in fact. A possible 9th planet in our solar system. Scientists are asking people all over the world, just like you, to get involved in a project called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. They want people to look through images online captured by NASA's WISE telescope from the edges of our solar system, comparing infrared images taken of the same area a few years apart. If you can spot an object that looks like it's moved in that time, there's a chance it could be a 9th planet.

At the moment this is what we know of our solar system. There are eight planets that orbit the sun. The closest is Mercury, followed by Venus, Earth, which is us. Yay. Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and finally Neptune, a whopping 4.5 billion kays from the Sun. When I was a kid, we already had a 9th planet way out past Neptune called Pluto.

But back in 2006, scientists decided Pluto was no longer a planet. It's now called a dwarf planet. But that doesn't mean there's no real 9th planet out there. Out near Pluto, scientists have found other objects, more than a thousand in fact, in a region known as the Kuiper Belt.

And it's out in the Kuiper Belt that some scientists reckon we might find planet number 9. While not all scientists agree it's out there, they do agree there could still be things to discover. Like brown dwarfs, balls of gas too big to be called planets, but too small to be called stars

Scientists say finding them would help us better understand how stars and planets form. So even if you don't find a new planet, you can still help make some important discoveries. More important than mine, anyway.

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Andy Chen
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