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.

Post by:
Filed under: Science • Space
soundoff (1,170 Responses)
  1. washington

    We found nibiru!
    Unfortunately it exists! 😦

    February 15, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      No, we didn't.
      No, it doesn't.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Diwa

    Is it like in fifth element after every few thousands of years evil causes extinction on our planet.

    February 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • I wish

      I call dibs on playing Corbin Dallas!

      February 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chicken

      I wanna be one of the techs smokin the gangja leaf under the ship while dropping in canisters of nuclear fuel.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hey

    I p00ped myself!

    February 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Really????????

    "It could have been carried by and African Swallow!"

    February 15, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buddy Kowalski

      No No the African Swallow is non-migratory....

      February 15, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Plato

      "They could grab it by the husk"

      February 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jean Luc

      The Hubble can't spot this?

      February 15, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • angel

      Haha.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoodAdvice

      Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?

      February 15, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • KingArthur

      It's not a question of where he grips it! It's a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Monty Python and the Holy Grail fan

      "What is the airspeed velocity of a Swallow?"

      "Depends, African or European?"

      "I don't know that! Argh!"

      February 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guard #1

      Listen, in order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings 43 times every second, right?

      February 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • shack

      Put the lime in the coconut,

      February 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • chamomile

      What, carried under the dorsal guiding feather?

      February 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • specter

      its umbrella's research base. this where they created the t virus. the hive was only an extension of this place.come next year they will release their new and improved zombie creating virus. The end is nigh! get yourself a shot gun.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leon

      The Hubble cannot resolve a swallow – African or European – from that proposed distance. It would have to fly closer.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      We are out of coffee!!! Run for your lives!!! aaaaaaah!!!!

      February 15, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • AnswerMan

      They're just trying to hide the fact that the death star is on a course to destroy earth, unfortunately we have no x-wings at the moment so it looks like we're screwed... 😦 oh well

      February 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oldone

      Tyche? Has anyone seen Tycus, the 1998 movie with Dennis Hopper? Should we start building underground????

      February 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • altodiva

      Thank you, my Monty Python friends, for the unexpected laugh!

      February 16, 2011 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
    • jacob lysick

      hmmm wow this sounds familiar IRAS 1983.. i wonder if this is finally planet x (our binary companion) thank god the conditioning has begun and CNN is covering this, now all the sheep will finally listen.. thank you CNN for the warning, to bad people with a elementary education of physics and history would've realize that binary systems are very abundant.

      February 16, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Renee

      -What, riddin on a horse?
      -Yes
      -You've got two empty halfs of coconut and you just banging them together.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      No, now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
    • SpaceDevilFace

      Maybe all the Christians can kneel in prayer (they love kneeling and kneeling and kneeling, don't they?) and pray the Big Scary Bad Mystery Space Object away with the power of prayer and kneeling.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. zero73

    Galactus has is here... If it's a brown dwarf star it really doesn't produce light so you can can't really see it.

    February 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • fswaggard

      Except that most celestial bodies don't produce their own light, they simply reflect the light of the nearest star...

      February 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      It will still emit infrared radiation, which can be "seen" by instruments.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fandango

      fswaggard, which part of "star" in "brown dwarf star" was unclear to you? He was right brown dwarf star don't reflect light while other stars do.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • lydia

      @fandango smartypants: Brown Dwarfs don't emit visible light or enough heat to detect easily from very far... they do reflect light. Before you go spouting off your mouth, perhaps try to read first. A little grammar wouldn't hurt either.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • lydia

      they emit near-ir radiation and xrays, which can be detected, in case you wondered.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shinea

      Fan ... when correcting other peoples mistakes, it's bad form to make your own.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sweetenedtea

      Um...Fandango? Most stars *emit* light. Light is a byproduct of some of the basic processes that are necessary for them to be stars in the first place. Objects like brown dwarfs are actually failed stars in that regard. Though they will have other characteristics in common with what we consider stars, which means they can be detected by means other than direct observation.

      February 16, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Fandango, can you please go away? You have literally no idea what you're talking about.

      February 16, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
    • CA Ed

      Lydia oh Lydia, that encyclopedia,
      Oh Lydia the Queen of Tattoo.
      On her back is the Battle of Waterloo.
      Beside it the wreck of the Hesperus, too.
      And proudly above waves the Red, White, and Blue,
      YOU CAN LEARN A LOT FROM LYDIA.
      🙂

      February 16, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dr. Lecter, Ph D.

    How could the government have missed this? I bet if BUSH never became president THIS WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENEND!
    Clearly, this is a vast, right wing conspiracy that has blinded us oppressed Americans to this big what-ever-it-is.

    February 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • KAJD

      No, in fact if everyone's attention hadn't been diverted to Iraq and weapons of mass destruction and mounting war cost triggering the massive deficit we now have...we would have found out about this a long time ago!

      February 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Idaho Tom

      Are... you that pathetically inclined towards politics that you have to blame everything, even outside the reach of the sun on a single individual?

      February 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • shack

      Put the lime in the coconut,
      You will see!

      February 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Of course

      GWB knew about it, but couldn't handle the possibility of something else being dimmer than him.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • mn badger

      lol @ Of Course

      February 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donnie H.

      Bush has never heard of planets and Palin thinks a brown dwarf star starred in Webster...

      February 15, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      you do know that looking for something spesfic in space is like useing a hand held camra to sweep the ocean, it is vast, and the lens is small. it is very hard to pick up anything. thats why they tend to take sweeping pics and then put them all together. still, it is quite easy to miss stuff. science is not YET perfect

      February 16, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • c

      Barak, stop playing on the computer and come back to bed.

      February 16, 2011 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. cicigreen

    that's cool!
    awesome!
    try sisizhao+com or cicelyzhao+com

    February 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cicigreen

    that's cool!
    awesome!
    try sisizhao+com

    February 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. anonymous

    This is not new news. What is new is they are now going to tell you about it, gradually, gently. This is the dwarf star that will pass in earth's orbit in 2012, that will upset the rotation of the earth. It will contribute to the tilt of the planet and polar shifts. This will be a cleansing on the earth, although it is unlikely most will survive this catastrophic event.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chudancha

      This is clearly the case. I mean i can say anything and it is true. In fact, the undisclosed body is actually going to impact the planet in 2012. Actually its going to hit our sun and combine, roasting the closest planets in 2013. Actually the planet will be arriving in 2015 and alien organisms will spread their spores all over earth. These are all nice theories but proof is good also.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • carolinago

      What Chundancha said. Also, there's no way it could "pass in Earth's orbit"- it's a gaseous object larger than Jupiter that is 15,000 AU away. It's so far it can't even reflect any of the Sun's light for us to see it. Also, a year or two difference is not going to make any gravitational difference in our own orbit that might be affected by Tyche. What the article mentioned about mass extinctions is how this object might be helping to fling comets that are in the Oort Cloud our way in a pattern according to its own orbit.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinking7

      Nemesis discovered – news report
      Suggest Pin Quote [+]

      an article in our local Ukrainian newspaper talks about discovery of "Nemesis" – "an invisible Death Star", adding astonishing parralels with ZetaTalk!

      and i qoute and translate:

      "A planet discovered which can threaten Earth with global disaster. NASA has found previously unseen planet that is the part of Solar system – Nemesis, or Death Star, as it is also called. Scientists attribute cataclysms that Earth goes through each tens of million years to this space body.

      Passing through the Oort cloud (hypothetical Solar system region which is a source of long periodic comets), Nemesis's gravitation directs flows of meteors and comets toward Earth. Why this space object, 5 times bigger than planet Jupiter, was not discovered earlier?

      – The case is that such celestial bodies can be seen only in infrared spectrum, because Nemesis falls into brown dwarf category, – head of Space Research Lab of Uzhgorod Natl University, Vitaliy Yepishev explains. – Say, our Sun is yellow dwarf, and when it cools down it will become red dwarf, and yet later – brown dwarf. This is a burnt byproduct, remains of the star, which is very dense and doesnt emit almost any light. Thats why it cannot be seen via normal telescope. To detect brown dwarfs coronographers are used, sensory telescopes and special broad field scanners.

      – Why wide scale disasters are tied with the Nemesis?

      – If such a massive space body passes through the Oort cloud, then, according to the disturbance theory, it can alter meteor and comet trajectories. Thats why it is quite possible that large scale disasters of cosmic origin that happened in the past (meteor, asteroid and comet impacts) where connected with Nemesis. Thus, its worth to look closer at it".

      February 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinking7

      Definitely not news – I had heard of it before this little CNN article, too.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      It's 15,000 AU away. This thing would have to be going 79.5 million MPH to get here that fast. Holy man that thing is bookin' it.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darth You Know Who

      ...perhaps you feel you're being treated unfairly?

      February 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahem...

      There is no way that the object will pass earths orbit by 2012, BUT the gravity well of the object could of already thrown comets out of that cloud, say, 2,000 years ago when the solar system passed through the center plane of the galaxy (yes, we passed through the center plane of the galaxy 2,000 years ago) and thrown comets out of the cloud, and it roughly takes slow moving objects that long to reach the center system. Voyager, a fast moving object (very fast) takes only around 30 years. Back on topic, we might have a barrage of comets coming soon, and NASA said they will be sending out a satalight to determine this 'age of comets' comming, if at all.

      just my 2 cents

      February 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • christy

      come on now.....don't ya remember when 2000 rolled around? all the mayhem? The Mayans were an ancient civilization...maybe they just got tired of tracking the future....

      February 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • local scientist

      You guys are legit retarded.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • SB

      We know now that the year of doom is 20120 not 2012. Turns out the Myans who were so good at prophesying were not so good at decimal placement.

      February 16, 2011 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Hitchhiker

      It's good to be retarded, the world seems better that way.

      February 16, 2011 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      ALL of you who commented on the first post who want to devalue my words, listen closely....check your suppressed fear....it is gleaming in your comments that you do not even see. Your life is over. Get used to it.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. Robert Foo

    Fantastic discovery

    February 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Not a "fantastic discovery". They didn't discover anything. It's an interesting theory, nothing more.

      February 16, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • SB

      Do you suffer from premature excitement? This can be sign of a serious condition known as RTFA, or Read The F___ Article. Fortunately treatment is available. Just one Scrollwheel(tm) per article can mean the difference between confidence and humiliating replies like this one. Stop suffering. Ask your doctor about Scrollwheel(tm) today.

      (fine print)Limit one Scrollwheel(tm) per mouse per article. Individual results may vary and not all users experience an end to embarrassment. Consult with your doctor on the best control panel settings for you. All claims by Scrollwheel Inc. tested and approved by the FDA and Microsoft.

      February 16, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. bobbber

    Is it Arnold from different strokes?

    February 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • davidr521

      Now *that's* just wrong.

      Funny as anything, but wrong...

      February 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Conan

      No, it's Bushwick Bill.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • elchingon

      What you talking about bobbber

      February 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahr Kar

      haha... Very funny

      February 16, 2011 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. Yikes

    Someone else posted that it is another sun gathering up fuel in the Oort Cloud until it gathers enough mass to ignite. Yikes!
    Let's say we survive the initial flash from that event.....do we now live in a planet that will have 2 sunrises, for approximately 25 of every 27 million years? (Need to account for the time it would be behind our original sun.)

    February 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • carolinago

      Astronomical objects don't "ignite" like a campfire- whatever fuel this thing had started running out a long time ago (we're talking billions of years). It barely has enough mass to collapse in on itself.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sutler

      The end is nigh! The end is nigh!

      Should this flash bang ignition occur, the entire vastness of space will go up in one giant fireball. All are doomed! Your only salvation is to buy fire retardent clothing and extinguishers from Sutler's Safety Supplies and Surplus. Act now, while our supply lasts!

      😛

      February 16, 2011 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. Tbone

    Andrew is the most ignorant poster on this thread.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinking7

      I saw this in the news a few weeks ago. Read below for the info. that CNN is now giving us only little bits of.

      Nemesis discovered – news report
      Suggest Pin Quote [+]

      an article in our local Ukrainian newspaper talks about discovery of "Nemesis" – "an invisible Death Star", adding astonishing parralels with ZetaTalk!

      and i qoute and translate:

      "A planet discovered which can threaten Earth with global disaster. NASA has found previously unseen planet that is the part of Solar system – Nemesis, or Death Star, as it is also called. Scientists attribute cataclysms that Earth goes through each tens of million years to this space body.

      Passing through the Oort cloud (hypothetical Solar system region which is a source of long periodic comets), Nemesis's gravitation directs flows of meteors and comets toward Earth. Why this space object, 5 times bigger than planet Jupiter, was not discovered earlier?

      – The case is that such celestial bodies can be seen only in infrared spectrum, because Nemesis falls into brown dwarf category, – head of Space Research Lab of Uzhgorod Natl University, Vitaliy Yepishev explains. – Say, our Sun is yellow dwarf, and when it cools down it will become red dwarf, and yet later – brown dwarf. This is a burnt byproduct, remains of the star, which is very dense and doesnt emit almost any light. Thats why it cannot be seen via normal telescope. To detect brown dwarfs coronographers are used, sensory telescopes and special broad field scanners.

      – Why wide scale disasters are tied with the Nemesis?

      – If such a massive space body passes through the Oort cloud, then, according to the disturbance theory, it can alter meteor and comet trajectories. Thats why it is quite possible that large scale disasters of cosmic origin that happened in the past (meteor, asteroid and comet impacts) where connected with Nemesis. Thus, its worth to look closer at it".

      February 15, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dep

    I thought there was a "Brown Giant" and a "White Dwarf" not a brown dwarf

    February 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snow White

      Actually there are seven dwarfs and none of them are brown.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • daws

      You was wrong then 😦

      February 15, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tycho Brahe

      Actually, our sun will eventually become a white dwarf, not a brown dwarf, but none of us will be around to say, "See? I told you so."

      February 16, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • SB

      There's a green giant, an iron giant, and a red dwarf, but that one's always lying shipwrecked and comatose drinking mango juice. I wouldn't bother him.

      February 16, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. bob

    This is just a test from the new world order. They want to see how the masses react to this news. This discovery has been out there for several years and is now coming to a head and they need to find a way to explain it and debunk it. Just read the article again. Just remember they have somewhere to go while we all suffer.

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

      Uh huh, they's the lizard people too... *sigh* take your meds >.<

      February 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitchhiker

      Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
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