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. jason

    Annunakis' are coming!

    February 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • EVEE IVEE OVER

      Bring them on!

      February 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. @Nemesis

    Jupiter Saturn Uranus and Neptune are all Roman gods and Nemesis is a Greek god so it doesn't make sense in the way you are putting it.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Interestedreader

    Wow the nuts really are out. Go buy a piece of plywood and some non-toxic paint and go stand in the street saying to repent you nutter, works best on a highway, 3 lane.

    Leave an intelligent post for people who know what they are talking about, to discuss their different 'point of views'. Theory's are for people to wonder about and try too figure out. If theory's had proving grounds to back them fully, they would be 'Facts'.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. an0id

    Oh Elron, how i used to mock you.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Interestedreader

    Previous post was at the people who are acting like 5 year olds. Just to clarify for people with smart coments. Still a very interesting article, even with all the nutters.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MuddyBuddy

    You are all going to die, Nemesis will get them for renaming it something lame. I can promise that life as you know it will end soon...
    Meaning you will get married, divorced, have a kid or something but life will change.

    I can also promise you that the vast majority of you will DIE< DIE DIE....

    Maybe in 20 years, maybe 80 or more, but you will DIE DIE DIE< and pay taxes, lots and lots of taxes...

    BA HA HA HA..........

    February 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • James in Arizona

      Thanks for the prediction, capt obvious. I would ask for the winning lottery numbers, but would probably wouldn't give me the exact day to play them. Thanks for wasting a few brain cells, I could have used them on a few beers later on.

      February 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gary

    Science is wonderful

    February 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jvonbargen

    This is hardly news. We've been watching this planet and its tail of moons for months now on NASA's own STEREO website. It is clearly visible on both the STEREO Ahead and STEREO Behind space observatories. Look for what appears to be a thunderbird trailing dust and debris. See for yourself!

    Planet X is dust cloud shrouded, so it would not reflect light as the other planets do, as a bright orb with vertical streak.

    It also has a retrograde orbit, coming from the right where the stereo Ahead satellite is located, and the dust cloud and moon swirls would also show up there, wafting in front of the satellite cameras and catching light from the Sun.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hitchhiker

    @amoeba
    The answer to the ultimate question is "42".

    February 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MuddyBuddy

    The Romans equated the Greek Nemesis with Invidia

    So a really big planet by any other name is not nearly as cool

    February 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Calvin

    Nerds have taken over the comment section of this article

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

      Nerds create the future.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jujubee

    Sounds exciting! Would be nice to see the fireworks lurking around. How come it took so long?

    February 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rob

    Peace & Respect to All
    Something wonderful will happen (soon) long before this object's arrival – It will catch most completely unprepared – An event beyond imagination but not unforetold. The one who created and controls all things is the key. Don't worry about rocks and fire – Find the Lord and shelter in His Love and LIVE. The earth (as described in the Bible) has started to go through what is described as "labor" – similar to the onset of birthing pain; the end of which will be the end of this age and the start of a new but eternal age. Respect and Peace to you.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitchhiker

      Yeck! Watch out for the afterbirth!

      February 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • an0id

      Why do you people insist on personifying the universe?

      February 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bildaburgs empire

    There is more out there then we all know it! The bildaburgs play us all like sheeple and in the end they win. Money turns this globe soon like naustradamus stated' there will be fire in the sky' in 2012. ww3 will soon be our denation. We lose by war and not by a second sun he did state which will pop up by the end of 2011.
    Good luck and hope this nation sticks together and riots when the rich tag us with chips. Good luck and if you are a stock investor i would suggest you jump on board with gwy-x galway resources which you will triple your investment guaranteed. I have inside info and im here for the sheeple and nor the rich. GOOD LUCK IF You bought into that stock.

    February 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. derh

    I am still interested to see what role it plays in the galactic alignment and if the powers that be will amend the intergalactic treaty for her (U.O.) inclusion.

    February 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
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