David Gerdes, TNOs, and the Quest for Planet Nine

Editor's Note: Gerdes presents "The Coolest Place in the Universe: New Worlds Beyond Neptune" at the 7pm Thursday March 15th GRAAA meeting, Schuler Books, 2660 28th Street SE. Free and open to the public.

David Gerdes is a naturally curious fellow, an important trait for a successful scientist. The University of Michigan professor holds joint appointments in both the departments of Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Gerdes has recently turned greater attention to a subject which for him has become a challenging and fascinating research interest: astronomical bodies orbiting along the fringes of the Solar System termed “trans-Neptunian Objects.”

Could one of those bodies, perhaps lurking in darkness far beyond Pluto, be large enough, and round enough, to be a true planet? If it exits and can one day be found, the Solar System would again have nine planets. The still hypothetical object is thus termed “Planet Nine.”