Help ASU astronomers find hypothetical Planet 9

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(Source: ASU) (Source: ASU)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A planet 10 times the mass of Earth may be lurking in our solar system and you can help astronomers find it.

Planet 9 is purely debatable but it’s not stopping serious study by astronomers around the world.

Arizona State University astronomer Adam Schneider and his colleagues are turning to citizen scientists to get involved.

A NASA-funded website called Backyard Worlds: Plant 9 lets everyone participate. You’ll view animated color images of the sky from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope. You then click on interesting candidates when you spot them.

The objects you click on will be analyzed by a science team for further study by professional astronomers.

The best hope for discovering the elusive planet, if it exists, is scanning the infrared images searching for objects that move.

“People who join in the Backyard Worlds search bring a unique skill to the search – the human ability to recognize movement,” Arizona State University astronomer Adam Schneider said.  

[RELATED: Read ASU news release

The Backyard Worlds search works by electronically serving up flipbooks of WISE images taken at different times. As each flipbook plays, objects in the field move or change appearance, making it easy for volunteer observers to flag suspicious objects for later follow-up, according an ASU news release.

You’ll share credit in any scientific publications that result from the project.

Besides ASU, the search is a collaboration between NASA, University of California – Berkeley, American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Spaced Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and the Zooniverse, a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators who collectively develop and manage citizen science projects on the internet.

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