Planet Nine

This refers not to the original ninth planet, which is now the dwarf planet 134340 Pluto, but the hypothetical gas giant that may exist in the far reaches of our the Solar System. A compelling case for the existence of this planet was made by Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown in 2016 [1], namely that it may have been flung out of the early inner Solar System and perturbed the orbit of the other observed trans-Neptunian objects.

As this planet has not yet been observed, it has not received a name from the IAU. Media and science communicators vary between using the names "Planet Nine" and "Planet X." Batygin and Brown variously use the names "Jehosaphat," "George," and "Phattie," although these pre-discovery nicknames do not usually have a great bearing on the eventual name choice.

Since every other planet around the Sun is named after a Roman god (except Uranus…) if it is discovered it will likely be given such a name. Therefore, I would like to propose the name Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom, arts, trade, and strategy. I believe it would be a fitting name for a planet discovered mathematically, before being observed.


For this name, the symbol I propose is evocative of 2 Pallas, but distinctive. It is a turned square bisected by an upward arrow. It is intended to simultaneously portray the shield and spear she is sometimes portrayed with, and her birth in full armor that split Jupiter's head.

The downside of this name is that it is not unique; there is a naming collision with 93 Minerva, which the IAU usually likes to avoid. The symbols for these bodies are different enough to be distinguished. Athena could be an appropriate alternative name for this symbol and planet. Pros: it is still a Greek deity, which has some precedence, and there is technically not another body in the Solar System with that name. Cons: both 2 Pallas and 881 Athene refer to this same deity.

I'm capable of compromise, of course, so I'll provide some other suggestions:


Opis, Roman goddess of fertility, plenty, and childbirth, wife of Saturn and mother of Jupiter. The name is similar to 2736 Ops, which has the same referent. The symbol represents both a full cornucopia and a stone swaddled in cloth, and was also designed to be visually similar to Saturn and Jupiter.

Other somewhat appropriate names for this planet could be:

  • Terminus, the Roman animistic god of boundary markers, for its terminal position in our Solar System. Janus is good for the same reason, but is already taken;
  • Murcia, Roman goddess sometimes cited as a goddess of sloth, for its very long trans-Neptunian orbit;
  • Erebus, Greek god of primordial night. Appropriate for a planet that was was first evidenced by looking where it is not, like looking at a shadow.

Finally, in the tradition of each of the modern planets, (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto), receiving orthographic symbols that had little to do with their namesakes, I submit one such symbol here. It is a simple Arabic numeral "9" made of a circle and straight line, with a cross at the bottom to suggest the Latin letter "X".


Pictured above: a modern history of ugly symbols.

[1] Batygin, Konstantin; Brown, Michael E. (2016). "Evidence for a distant giant planet in the Solar system". The Astronomical Journal. 151 (2): 22. arXiv:1601.05438 Freely accessible. Bibcode:2016AJ….151…22B.


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