Planet Nine is yet to be discovered but astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are convinced it is real. In 2015, Caltech professor Michael Brown proposed a hypothetical planet beyond the Kuiper asteroid belt was affecting the orbits of many Kuiper objects. And though no direct observations of the planet have been made to date, the Planet Nine theory quickly caught the attention of the scientific community. But the Planet Nine story also caught the attention of conspiracy theorists who believe the elusive world could be the wayward Nibiru.
Planet Nibiru, also known as Planet X or Wormwood, is a rogue planet or planetary system orbiting the Sun every 3,600 years.
Some conspiracy theorists believe the Ancient Sumerians traced Nibiru’s path across the skies and left behind clues of its existence.
Even wilder and widely debunked theories suggest Nibiru is home to a sentient and technologically advanced alien civilisation known as the Anunnaki.
When the Planet Nine theory was announced four years ago parallels were instantly drawn between the two worlds.
Both Planet Nine and Nibiru are said to follow an elliptical orbit and there are no recorded sightings of the planet.
But where Planet Nine “mathematically checks out”, according to space agency NASA, Nibiru is widely discredited as an online hoax.
Professor Brown himself has addressed the Nibiru conspiracy on live radio, dismissing any claims the Sumerians knew of Planet Nine in any shape or form.
Speaking to Coast to Coast AM, the astronomer said: “It’s funny, every time I discover something new in the outer solar system, that’s always the big question, ‘oh it must be this Nibiru thing that was predicted’.
“Unless they had somehow invented telescopes as big as the telescopes we have on top of Mauna Kea today, then it seems really unlikely that they knew about this.
“Unless some conspiratorial aliens have come down and told them about that, that seems pretty unlikely to me.”
The most likely case scenario is Planet Nine is an icy world similar to the planet Neptune.
According to Professor Brown, the two planets would have formed around the same time until the gravity of Saturn or Jupiter “ejected” Planet Nine from the solar system.
And what about Nibiru? The world’s leading scientists agree there is no such rogue planet lurking in the depths of space.
NASA scientist Dr Dave Morrison said: “The simplest thing to say is there is no credible evidence whatever for the existence of Nibiru.
“There are no pictures, there’s no tracking, there’s no astronomical observations, in fact, the origin of the name is a little weird.
“Nibiru was a minor god in the Babylonian pantheon, probably associated with Jupiter. There’s no record they ever thought of it as a planet.”