Washington, July 10 (ANI): A new theory by a University of Melbourne physicist has said that Galileo knew he had discovered a new planet, that we now know as Neptune, in the year 1613, 234 years before its official discovery date.
Professor David Jamieson, Head of the School of Physics, has put the theory forward.
He is investigating the notebooks of Galileo from 400 years ago and believes that buried in the notations is the evidence that the astronomer discovered a new planet that we now know as Neptune.
If correct, the discovery would be the first new planet identified by humanity since deep antiquity.
Galileo was observing the moons of Jupiter in the years 1612 and 1613 and recorded his observations in his notebooks.
Over several nights, he also recorded the position of a nearby star which does not appear in any modern star catalogue.
"It has been known for several decades that this unknown star was actually the planet Neptune. Computer simulations show the precision of his observations revealing that Neptune would have looked just like a faint star almost exactly where Galileo observed it," Professor Jamieson said.
But, a planet is different to a star because planets orbit the Sun and move through the sky relative to the stars.
It is remarkable that on the night of January 28 in 1613, Galileo noted that the "star" we now know is the planet Neptune appeared to have moved relative to an actual nearby star.
There is also a mysterious unlabeled black dot in his earlier observations of January 6, 1613, which is in the right position to be Neptune.
"I believe this dot could reveal he went back in his notes to record where he saw Neptune earlier when it was even closer to Jupiter but had not previously attracted his attention because of its unremarkable star-like appearance," said Professor Jamieson.
If the mysterious black dot on January 6 was actually recorded on January 28, Professor Jamieson proposes this would prove that Galileo believed he may have discovered a new planet. (ANI)