What are the differences between the discoveries of Sedna, 2012vp 113, and the supposed Planet 9?

All need deep infrared surveys at the ecliptic plane, but P9 needs a much deeper survey?

  • $\begingroup$ I'm far from an expert but Sedna was discovered by visible light. Spitzer, apparently, couldn't see it at the time of discovery. science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2004/16mar_sedna Planet 9 should stand out much more visible than Sedna on infra-red given it's expected warmer surface temperature remaining from it's heat of formation, but less visible in reflected sunlight. $\endgroup$ – userLTK Nov 18 '16 at 7:30
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    $\begingroup$ Precision measurement of Saturn's orbit, thanks to Cassini's long mission, has helped constraining the properties of a potential Planet 9 through its gravitational influence. Maybe an orbiter at Uranus or Neptune would be helpful. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Nov 18 '16 at 18:18

This question already discusses the challenges of discovering planet 9

The main problem of the hypothetical planet 9 as compared to Sedna and 2012 VP113 is:

Sedna and 2012 VP113 have orbits that reach far out but currently they are near their perihelion so it was possible to observe them in the visible light spectrum. Planet 9's orbit is far out or at least it is currently near its aphelion. Otherwise it probably would have already been discovered.

Also the planet's orbit is probably tilted towards the ecliptic and it moves very slowly compared to the stars in the background.

At this position the maximum of its radiation would be emitted in the far infrared and it moves before the background of the Milky Way.

So to summarize:

We would need a long term observation with an far-infrared capable, spaceborne, telescope (because our atmosphere absorbs far infrared radiation) which has to include the background of the Milky Way. The telescope has to be able to detect faint infrared sources. We could be lucky and planet 9 just happens to pass in front of a star as we are observing it. Then we could get our first hint with an optical telescope. But that's pure luck and we can't plan towards that.

WISE already tried to find planet 9 but did not find it. The James Webb Telescope may be our sole instrument capable of discovering planet 9 directly. But it's not built to permanently survey an area of the sky although it could confirm a finding.

Gaia could probably detect planet 9 if it happens to pass in front a star.

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