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A month ago Michael Rowan-Robinson discovered three dots on old images of the sky which may or may not be an undiscovered planet (that's not identical to Brown's and Batigyn's hypothetical planet). I guess it should be easy to (dis)prove its existence; when you have three dots you can easily determine the orbit and point a telescope to the location the planet should be now, or not?

Is that action already ongoing? When will we know for certain that RR's planet exists or not? May the James Webb telescope help?

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you have images for us to see? $\endgroup$
    – WarpPrime
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ Please source your information. Regardless: dots on an old image don't tell much. It needs to be such that it is the same object, detected in different images, preferably taken at least several months apart so that a visible movement is detectable with respect to the background. Longer temporal separation makes the orbit calculation more accurate; three in the same night makes it virtually impossible. Even in the best case it will likely need some search - just for "yet another planet KBO detected once". He has all tools at hand to conduct or suggest or aquire funding for that search himself. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ The paper was submitted and is accepted by MNRAS (but not yet published other than on arxiv). So any follow up observation might happen latest late next year or even earliest 2023, given the typical time span between application for observation time with major instruments and grants of this (this is not time critical either). Reading the paper he writes himself, that prior to that further dynamical studies need to be undertaken to pinpoint the position better... so I bet such grant application hasn't even been submitted so far. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ @planetmaker - this comment sounds like it's a good answer to the question, actually $\endgroup$
    – antlersoft
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ The preprint arxiv.org/pdf/2111.03831.pdf $\endgroup$
    – James K
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 17:58

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Essentially: probably no-one knows for sure unless a person who started the research themselves or is writing or has written a grant application to conduct the research, if at all so far.

The paper was submitted and is accepted by MNRAS (but not yet published other than on arxiv). So any follow up observation might happen earliest late next year (2022), maybe even beginning of 2023, given the typical time span between application for observation time with major instruments and grants of this. As it is not a time critical observation (like a new supernova, inner solar-system passage of a newly discovered solar system object or similar), it will not be eligible for priority.

Reading the paper he writes himself, that prior to that further dynamical studies need to be undertaken to pinpoint the position better... so I consider it a rather safe bet such grant application hasn't even been submitted so far, one month after the publication of a pre-print of this paper.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't quite understand your use of early and late. Don't you mean it might happen "late next year the earliest"? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 7:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Giovanni-ReinstateCeresPluto yes... my wording there was bad. I made an edit to clarify. Thanks for pointing it out $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 7:49

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