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Does the Solar System Have Giant New Planet?

Pluto was so 2006. Meet Tyche, a possible new planet that may be hanging out on the outer edge of our solar system.

John Matese and Daniel Whitmire of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette are causing a media frenzy with their claim that a gaseous object, estimated to be four times the mass of Jupiter, is within the sun’s gravitational field.

The professors say evidence gathered by the NASA space telescope WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) will verify whether the planet exists. It is believed to be orbiting on the Oort Cloud in the outer reaches of the solar system.

The orbit of Tyche (pronounced ty-kee) would be 15,000 times farther from the sun than Earth. Matese and Whitmore say the space object is made up of hydrogen and helium, with an atmosphere similar to Jupiter’s.

The WISE telescope is currently in a polar orbit above Earth and its mission is to discover undetected cosmic objects. The telescope’s data will begin to be analyzed in April, and both Matese and Whitmore believe that in two years the data will reveal the presence of Tyche. "If it does, John and I will be doing cartwheels. And that's not easy at our age,” Whitmire said in an interview with The Independent .

Still, the International Astronomical Union would have the final word on whether Tyche is indeed the ninth planet.

Be part of the conversation, do you think “Tyche” exists?