Scientists, telescope hunt massive hidden object in space
Some scientists think a brown dwarf or gas giant bigger than Jupiter could be at the outer reaches of the solar system. In this image showing relative size, the white object at the upper left edge represents the sun.
February 15th, 2011
09:03 AM ET

Scientists, telescope hunt massive hidden object in space

You know how you sometimes can sense that something is present even though you can't see it? Well, astronomers are getting that feeling about a giant, hidden object in space.

And when we say giant, we mean GIANT.

Evidence is mounting that either a brown dwarf star or a gas giant planet is lurking at the outermost reaches of our solar system, far beyond Pluto. The theoretical object, dubbed Tyche, is estimated to be four times the size of Jupiter and 15,000 times farther from the sun than Earth, according to a story in the British paper The Independent.

Astrophysicists John Matese and Daniel Whitmire from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette think data from NASA's infrared space telescope WISE will confirm Tyche's existence and location within two years.

The presence of such a massive object in the solar system's far-flung Oort Cloud could explain a barrage of comets from an unexpected direction, according to a December article at Space.com.

Its 27 million-year orbit could also explain a pattern of mass extinctions on Earth, scientists say.

Brown dwarfs are cold "failed" stars; their dimness and lack of heat radiation can make them hard to detect. Gas giants are huge planets - like Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune - that are made up of gases and may lack a solid surface like Earth's.

Whitmire told The Independent that Tyche will probably be composed of hydrogen and helium and have colorful spots, bands and clouds like Jupiter.

"You'd also expect it to have moons," he said. "All the outer planets have them."

Tyche was first hypothesized in 1984 as Nemesis, a dark companion star to the sun. It's been the subject of astronomical research and debate ever since. In July, another Space.com article said the celestial evidence suggests Tyche could not possibly exist.

To distinguish it from the Nemesis star theory, Matese and Whitmire are calling their object Tyche, after the good sister of the goddess Nemesis in Greek mythology.

Their research is published in Icarus, the International Journal of Solar System Studies.

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Filed under: Science • Space
soundoff (1,170 Responses)
  1. Truthwillsetyoufree

    Can they see Steve Jobs ego out there. Its massive.....

    February 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steve

    This is actually great news, now TSA has another great reason for more intrusive pat-downs. !

    February 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. T.

    The funny thing is that we all know that our gov. is hiding things from us. Cant cause mass panic! But if you just do a little research on this you will see our acient people new about all this. Why do we think we are so smart! havent seen anyone build a giant pyramid in the few thousand years. So open up your eyes people, the world around you is changing, NOT ENDING!

    February 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • sumday

      your right ancient people did write about this- but those were myths right? I mean all human knowelge was BS before 3-4 hundered yr ago isn't that about what they tell us? We can't believe anything that the ancient pl wrote bc they didn't understand things like we do- and with such a small group of pl being able to read n write they decided to write down "fairy tales/myths" to pass on to future generation instead of facts or believed truths. While I may not exactly believe the ancient texts from sumer I must admit it give one pause if indeed there is another planet in our solar system. As for pyramids no we haven't built any lately but have you seen the size of some of our buildings? they are much higher than the old pyramids.

      February 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. redned

    the ignorance of basic scientific terms shown in these posts is terrifying. ed, rs? you guys listening???

    February 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Shepard

    It is obviously a Mass Effect field

    February 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brasil1958

    ...a Brown dwarf? Was there an unaccounted illegal alien in Snow White that was missed?

    February 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      The 8th dwarf was Biggie.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicholas Cage

      You mean they found Gary Coleman in space?

      February 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Buck Ofama

    They were going to call it the Michael Moore star until they discovered it wasn't as big as they first thought!!!

    February 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Or 'WMD', so a lot of time and money can be spent on trying to find something that doesn't exist....

      February 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Olias

    How is it that we can find relatively small planets orbiting other suns and can't spot another sun (almost) in our own solar system. Am I confused or is there a simple explanation?

    February 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason

      it's has been a cover-up since the 80's i think... pretty soon like now the facts have to be made.

      it's name should be Nibiru

      February 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • an0id

      Its obviously a cover up. Anything we cant explain was either put here by a man who lives on a floating cloud or the supermind government is responsible. NOT. To think that this is a cover up is just irrational paranoia and simple minds drawing lines connecting dots where they dont belong.

      If you stay inside the lines, most planets were discovered when passing infront of another body or visually reflecting light. Plutos obrit for example is inside the Kuiper belt, relativly close by comparison to the outside of the solar system. Plutos discovery came when it passed infront of nepture on its orbit in the early half of the 21st century. THATS the only reason we saw it, a combination of technology and and awkward orbit with a giant body to pass infront. As you pull further and further out to the edge of the solar system the sheer dimension of the viewable area isnt really comprehensible to us down here and with nothing to pass infront of we're bascially left squinting hoping we can see a pattern of bright shiney comets suddenly winging around in another direction. Witch has been whats been happeneing.

      LALALALA, CONNECT THE DOTS<LA-LA-LA.
      idiots. (not you, the conspiricy people)

      February 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard Markowitz

      There is a cool book called the '12th Planet' by Zecharia Sitchin'. He is one of the few people in the world that can read ancient dead languages and has read parts of the dead sea scrolls. Thru his research he has come up with a hypothesis that begins with a planet in our solar system that has approx. a 3600 year orbit. Niburu is the name Sitchin uses and it comes from the Sumerians. Every 3600 years, Niburu comes flying thru our known solar system and slingshots around the sun to go back on its massive orbit. 3600 years ago, the Egyptian mythology had this hierarchy of powerful gods stemming from Ra. Leading to the rise of the Greeks and Romans who had similiar mythologies. The biggest commonality is that these powerful gods were battling each other for power and control of resources using mankind as pawns in their battles. The book and its sequels are fascinating reads which have answers to questions about our ancient history using the evidence we have at hand.

      February 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rcs0469

    Planet X/ Nibiru would be what NASA and other governing organizations around the world has known about for years but refuse to acknowledge. I wonder why now...hmmmm

    February 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • an0id

      You know that they know? do they know you know they know? how do you know?

      Did you also know the evil government supermind that controls our planet also knows that aliens actually live in the ocean and they're going to transport us to this planet right before the Sumarians return to blow us up and that Theyve been here the WHOLE TIME TOO! zomg, write that down. Ill let you blog about it later.

      Seriously, what evidence do you have to spout that? If you have evidence that "THE government" knows about this planet i want you to show us, show the world what you KNOW TO BE TRUE.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • sumday

      @an0id- the government knows about it bc it was written down 6000+ yrs ago, and those text have been studied even at present day- It's like saying the government knows about jesus and alah- yes the government knows about this stuff it does not mean they believe any of it! Honestly I'd feel disappointed if our government didn't know about it (where are my tax dollars going) bc they know everything. Just remeber knowing and believing are 2 totaly seperate things- so the government probably did/does know about this- but it's not a conspiracy it's just they don't believe it.

      February 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andrew

    Palpatine/Harkonnen 2012

    February 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Dave

      You win at the internets today, sir.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Thanks, was difficult finding my way through the series of tubes.....

      February 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. J.

    More speculation told as fact today on CNN. Seriously, the hunt for Planet X has been going on for almost a century so I'm confused as to what makes this story any more or less significant than other, previous attempts to find mystery planet/star/imaginary pet.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jos

    I am always wary of invisible gas.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • quizard

      I think I have been exposed to too much invisible gas from nearby humanoids.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mr Stephens

    Do the impossible, see the invisible.
    ROW ROW FIGHT DA POWER!
    Touch the untouchable, break the unbreakable.
    ROW ROW FIGHT DA POWER!

    February 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Aldebaran

    The Kolbrin Bible predict an end to life as we know it, by a celestial event. It will be the return of a massive space object, in a long elliptical orbit around our sun. Known to the Egyptians and Hebrews as the "Destroyer," the Celts later called it the “Frightener."

    February 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • bildaburgs empire

      Its funny how they mayans had computers which seems odd. The pyramids were cut directly with a diamond that in todays ages we cant even make that cut like they did. I still do think the mayans were taken to a better place! They were more smarter then any one today.
      Even though i do still think we were bred by them and using us as a scape goat in there own demise. Its like an ant farm! We build our capitalism and then they shake us and back to stone ages. I dont believe in god but i believe in the other side. We are a bunch of sheeple.

      February 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Richard Allen

    brown dwarf = Mexican star...they are coming for you, America...

    February 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      So does that mean if we build a wall we're safe?

      February 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitchhiker

      No, it means cheap gardening.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
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