January 20, 2024 ALP Astronomy Experts Speaker Series featuring Dr. Michael E. Brown

“The Search for Planet 9”
20 January 2024, 10:00 a.m. Philippine Standard Time (02:00 UTC)
By Dr. Michael E. Brown (Professor of  Planetary Astronomy, Caltech)

In 2006, Pluto was demoted to a “dwarf planet”. Since then, a team of planetary scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has been searching for a hypothesized planet on the edge of the solar system. This is Planet Nine, and its search will be discussed by no other than Dr. Mike Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy at Caltech.

Dr. Michael E. Brown scans the skies searching for and intensely studying distant bodies in our solar system in the hope of gaining insight into how our planet and the planets around it came to be. In this quest, he has discovered dozens of dwarf planets (and demoted Pluto from planet to dwarf planet) and is currently hot on the trail of Planet Nine — a hypothesized body that is possibly the fifth largest planet of our solar system.
Dr. Brown has been on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) since 1996 and has authored more than 150 scientific papers. He has also won many awards and honors, including the Urey Prize from the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences, a Presidential Early Career Award, a Sloan Fellowship, and the 2012 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics. He was inducted into the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2014.

Abstract: In the past 175 years, more than 30 separate astronomers have suggested the existence of a giant planet beyond Neptune. They have always been wrong. In 2016, Konstantin Batygin and I joined the list, suggesting that Planet Nine, at a distance perhaps 20 times greater than that of Neptune, is the only plausible explanation for a wide range of phenomena in the distant solar system. I’ll talk about why we think Planet Nine is real, how we are continuing to develop our hypothesis, and what we are doing to track down this elusive planet and when we might find it. Or why we, too, might be wrong.

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