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. Mance Lotter

    don't call it a brown dwarf. we prefer african-solarian little star.

    February 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • PishPosh

      Haha. Nice

      February 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • scriptfoo

      ... or a pigment-challenged publicly-averse planet with star-potential.

      February 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Queue the music and play some circus music as it approaches

      February 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. harbinger

    so does this mean that Tyche is going to fling a comet at us capable of extinction in 11 million years....

    February 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • driranek

      Not at all. Tyche actually flung the comet at us half way through its previous orbit so it should be here....tomorrow.

      February 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gog

    IT'S GOD! (just kidding)!

    February 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mammoth

    We got to destroy this "Tyche" before she destroys us!!

    February 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CptStupid

    Ah screw it! I'm going back and play D&D in my Mom's basement!!!

    February 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • darthallen

      can I join?

      February 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brittani

      winner!!

      February 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The Jackdaw

    We have a something with 4 times the amount of hot air than Jupiter right here on Earth. It's Sarah Palin!

    February 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mance Lotter

      we have something wtih 4x the hot air of Sarah Palin: Barack Obama.

      February 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      we have something wtih 4x the hot air of Barak Obama: Mance Lotter

      February 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mance Lotter

      touche, paul. bravo for copying what was copied.

      February 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bildaburgs empire

    Great thing in life is WE the working sucker who is not related to the bildaburgs/rothchild/j.p morgan and a few several do not know anything in the system today,but welfare and losers. These ppl behind the scenes want you to be stupid and not learn so they can make there move(which will be soon)
    They will chip you and brainwash you just like hitler did by burning down his own whitehouse and blamed it terrorism. Now america has stole hitlers way to keep YOu the sheeple intact. Great job sheeple keep up the great work. I do feel for the war vets that lost lives from a government who pays other countries to go to war with them. I do hope the ppl of america finally realize and halt any votes just like egypt did. POwer is THE PPL NOT THE SHEEPLE(IF YOU DECIDE TO AGREE WITH A GOVERNMENT)

    good luck though, i will see you soon in this coming ww3 which starts in november of 2011.

    February 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mance Lotter

      You believe you're "HUMAN"? that is what "THEY" want you to believe. Don't be a Shuman yourself! Wake up! That red stuff coursing through your "body" is spacefuel. If you pour it into a duck, you'll finally be broken of the chains our alien captors want you shackled to.

      See, it's easy to be a freakin' wierdo who makes no sense, so stop trying so hard!

      February 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

      You're just a little bit loony, aren't you!

      February 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitchhiker

      Oh great, I can never find a duck when I need one!

      February 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      bildaburgs empire:

      I wish you luck in your 'obvious venture' of helping a nation. Your pessimistic view gets you no where. I suggest taking a more positive approach to directing the American citizens if you feel so passionate about them and their wrong doings... or maybe you don't offer positive suggestions because you're not smart enough to come up with any? You sound like a nagging house wife and your negative tone is just annoying to read.

      February 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • CHECK YOUR FACTS

      BILDERBERG DAMNITTT!!!

      February 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • dkrash

      I don't know maaannn!!! I'm penciled in for 2012 for the EOW... Which calendar are you using?

      February 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pinky

      I think so, Brain, but where are we going to find a duck and a hose at this hour?

      February 16, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. popswuzrite

    It's true. I've been there. And I brought back an unintelligent life form, more virus than anything. What a mistake THAT was, for it seems bent on destroying Earth.
    I called it "Non-sensicus brownturdicus"
    In the past 49 years it has morphed into a human form and has learned to procreate. I believe people on Earth have come to know it as "Obama"
    Sorry humanity, I guess I shoulda brought back the rock instead.

    February 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      lol...I think your popswuzwrong!!

      February 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      What a sad sad life you must lead that every news article even about gas giants in the ort cloud leads you bash the president.

      February 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Austin

    Lunatics on here people One Astromener made this saying it is out there there is scientist who say it does not exist they are just guessing have you ever heard DONT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ i feel sorry for the people who believe in doomsday theories when they cant live there life to the fullest and complain about this crap the world might end tommarow who no i no that when it does end i will have lived my life to the fullest and bildaburgs empire person who wrote about ww3 they have predicted WW3 and illuminti brainwashing people for Years since 2000 AD

    February 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Farmer0441

    The article is short on facts.
    I think the gib gas ball is the folks posting here.

    February 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Someone who learns

    Just so you guys know this planet has had cycles of extinctions...It wasnt just a couple of times with the dinosaurs...Just saying...Learn your facts and act accordingly. Of course they would start talking about this once its already too late. unless some one here has been building a spaceship to live in while it destroys earth...lol

    February 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lucy

    Great.....couldn't we find this mysterious planet after 2012? This us what nostradamus had predicated for the end of times....

    February 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cactus Jack

    A truthful scientist declares very VERY little as "impossible." Because most things can not be proven with 0% doubt as impossible. In fact, it is much easier to prove something as possible than impossible especially when talking about things that occur outside of our planet.

    February 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. FridayNight

    Too bad NASA's budget got slashed. Science and astronomy are so amazing, so many things still to discover.

    February 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      True enough,but this type of speculation about a massive planet or very nearly dead Nemesis Star has been circling around for many years.In theory our sun has gravitational attraction to almost a thousand times Pluto's distance from the sun.It's just that a thorough search of the space out beyond Pluto has been inconclusive.When looking into scientific matters we should not be too positive of anything.Such a massive planetary body would be very difficult to find.

      February 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scott Cluthe

    I think they should prepare the release of the info on this new Dwarf Brown Star for early September.
    No way it wouldn't win on the new X Factor!
    Dark Horse in Da House !

    February 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
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