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. KBinMN

    This is getting out of hand. First Pluto is deemed not to be a 'real' planet and now we may actually be part of a binary star system. Scientists really should stop advancing science. I want my one sun, nine planet solar system back!

    February 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nowhearthis

    wow this might explain plutos orbit, uranus and pluto fight to be closes to the brown dwarf

    February 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kat

    sowgoodseeds, honey reread the article. now, if its 15 thousand times farther away than the earth to the sun...what do we have to worry about? have the crew at nasa plotted its course? does it come close to earth? does it come close to jupiter? if the course plotted shows that its coming into contact, or near contact with earth, then i will worry. until then, well, its nice to see whats out there in the great unknown.

    February 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Suchi

    Whiskey

    February 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sol Rosenberg

    Mars Attacks!

    February 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitchhiker

      We are your friends, Ack, Ack Ack Ack!

      February 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • This artical is retarded

      Ahh! its the martian death star!

      February 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mitch

    I think this article is amazing. Just knowing their discovering the possibility's of uber planets and whatnot while i take a daytime snooze. Maybe they should ask that IBM computer Watson what's out their? He would have a lot better comments than most of these people he also knows when to shut up.

    February 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • This artical is retarded

      I think this artical is retarded becasue if a star was that close, we would deffinantly see it. We can see stars that are all the way across the galaxy at night, so this makes no sense

      February 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Josh

    love all the random sci-fi reference posts! But more related to the article, this is truly fascinating, I can't wait for them to determine what IT actually is.

    February 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • This artical is retarded

      Ladies and Gents! This is the scientists speaking!

      We have figured out what this mysterious thing is!
      A stupid firefly got on the telescope...

      February 15, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DV

    I find your lack of faith disturbing.

    February 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Will

    Hush.... before Republicans find out and want to give away 100s of billions to Defense companies and their cronies to save us, hmmm defend us from this plant.

    It is amazing how Tea Party is not talking at all about Medicare, Medicaid and Defense – the three items that account for almost 78% of government spend. They want to cut money to programs that, thought to benefit "those" minorities, actually also affect lots of poor whites as we know it – safety nets are for every one. Let government introduce conscription and see if any one will support wars and our spend on employing MILLIONS of Southerners and paying for their benefits, pensions and so on, not to speak of trillions it has costed us for defense just in the last decade.

    February 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chicken

      Are you certain you are posting to the correct article?

      February 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jackx

    Let's face it folks if truth is stranger than fiction and in all of the "doomsday movies" that Hollywood comes out with i find it strange that they always cast a black president. Well we have a black president and 2012 is close and then theres this huge object coming at us...should I go on?

    February 15, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. wbaldwin

    what i don't understand, is that the link within this story that says "mass extinctions on earth" sends you to a http://www.space.com article about this same story. Their story talks of WISE, which is the satellite that is taking the infra red pictures. When you click on the link in that story, it sends you to WISE's website which states "on feb 11 2011, WISE took it's last shot of space." umm, this is not a "this just in" type of a story but whatever.

    so it's going to take 2 years of reading data from pictures that have already been taken to confirm it's existence? have fun guys whew!

    February 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. You idiots

    Think about this:

    In the night sky, we can see stars that are over 100 million light years away from us. Why would we not see a star on our doorstep?

    February 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suchi

      You ignorant fool, stars luminosity. And distance determines their brightness in the night sky. Those starts are trillions of times more brilliant than our star, that's why you see them. A brown dwarf hss never been detected because it is so dull, it is essentially is a failed star. You need infrared to detect it, hence, why it's more easily associated with. A large space object, such as a planet or Jupiter object. This is why it has not been observed, you ignorant fool. Muahahzhahaha.

      Oh dam, got to go poopsikins again.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • tct

      Because it isn't much brighter than you.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Nemisis

    MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! First the dinosaurs, and now an intelegent race to kill!. Get ready, pitiful mortals. I'm going to rock your world, literaly.

    Oh no, you have Chuck Noris! AHHH! *explodes*

    February 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. KILLA PINK_E

    There was a meeting of governments way back in 1975 in Britain, at that meeting it was made known that the "greys" were totally uninterested in our welfare except for their own needs. It was also made known that the "greys" reside on the Moon, under our oceans and under our ground look very much like the creatures in the movie, "Fire in the Sky." Human, Dolphin and Sea Turtle. Bin' around for ages. Live underground. Under the Sea. Manipulate Mankind forever." They are the ELVES!!!!! They are the war makers and doers of all evil!!!! They are Con-Trolled by a group of Humans that have been enjoying technologies........... such as we are now just scraping the surface of......... for eons.

    February 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. irie

    This is Deja vu' to me.. Saw it all 2yrs ago, I was high @ the tym

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