The astronomers who a few days ago announced that our solar system is home to a ‘tenth planet’, according to the South African newspaper Sunday Independent forced by a hacker to make their discovery public earlier than intended.
The celestial body, which is three times as far from the sun as Pluto and orbits the sun, was discovered in 2003 by a team led by astronomer Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology. However, the object is so far away that its motion could not be immediately detected. By January of this year, the necessary data had been analyzed, but the researchers also wanted to know the size accurately to have a more complete picture. The results of that study are not expected until January next year; that was when the scientists wanted to spread the word of their discovery. However, a hacker threw a spanner in the works by breaking into a server containing information about the discovery and threatening to make it public if the researchers didn’t. Brown then decided to give the hacker his way and release the “incomplete” discovery.
There is last year also news of a ‘tenth planet’ appeared. However, this object has been classified as a asteroid and has reignited debate about Pluto’s status. The current discovery will therefore be regarded by some as the ninth planet. The celestial body was christened Lila by Brown himself. The temporary astronomical name is 2003UB313.