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. Sunspot

    Well the quality of these comments has certainly deteriorated. It is unlikely that this object exists. Period.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • =/

      please offer reason to your statement, you cant going around claiming things without any reason to back it up ('period' does not qualify). Statements like these lead to comment deterioration, well, that and people goofing off. Just a friendly heads up before shouting matches come up...

      February 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • so impressed

      Wow, that final "Period" really was persuasive. Without that definitive pronunciation, such a comment might seem to have come from an uninformed and vapid buffoon. Semi-colon.

      February 15, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Don

    I don't understand how scientists can't see something that is 4x the size of Jupiter- which in itself is 11x the size of earth and that's pretty darn big- that rests within our own solar system, and yet they can see planets and God knows what else in other galaxies. It's like knowing what's in someone's backyard in another state and you don't even know what you have in your own backyard.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • darren

      Planets around other stars are observable by two methods. The first is to 'see' them by noting the wobble in starlight caused by the gravity of the planet as it goes around the star. This method best sees large planets in close to the star. The second method is to look for planets which cross exactly between us and their star. This method will only see planets which happen to be lined up correctly and happen to pass in front of their star when we happen to be looking.

      The hypothesized object the article is talking about would be invisible around any other star by the techniques we have.

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

      The reason they can't see it is because the sun's light does not extend that far. Because no light is reflecting off of it, it is pretty much invisible. It is also too dim to be noticed by our satellites.

      February 15, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • EmptySkull

      As you said, you don't understand because you are not a scientist.

      February 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • here nor there

      We haven't detected planets in other galaxies, only around other stars in our own galaxy.

      February 15, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sen

      I think his thought is still valid. There are ways to detect these "invisible" objects. One way could be the gravity effect on the light passing close to this object (not produced by it but produced by other distant stars). It is little hard to believe that scientists did not notice this till now. Anyway, hopefully more details will emerge soon.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bob

    Global warming is a cover story for the effects that our planet is experiencing from this object moving into solar system. Global warming just fits as an acceptable explanation due to all the environmental freaks on this planet. I look forward to this explanation from our leaders but that will probably come to late for most of us, just like hollywood does it. Just remember that they have a plan for this and u and me are most likely not included.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • daws

      Yeah Tyche is spewing millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, not our cars and factories >.<

      February 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob for apples

      The environment, SO overrated!

      February 15, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bob

    You do not have to believe what I have to say but if you believe in big brother to tell that something exists, well then I am afraid they have already got you right where they want you. I believe there is a lot out there we do not understand that maybe a few do, which gives them the power. Have a good night.....

    February 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roi

      So much paranoia...

      February 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob for apples

      While I don't dispute your NWO thesis, I have two questions for you: 1) Though you and I are aware of NWO, do you think that awareness will help to protect you? 2) You say "there is a lot out there we do not understand that maybe a few do, which gives them the power." What power do they gain by knowledge of Tyche?

      You're deluded in thinking your own knowledge gives you much power, and you're deluded in thinking the NWO leaders have power with respect to celestial objects. Get out of your chair and make the most of your life, politics notwithstanding. You're certainly not smart enough to do anything else.

      February 16, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Tycho Brahe

      You can never have too much paranoia.

      February 16, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. Duskmacabre

    This is Nibiru and it will come close enough to become visible by the naked eye as a horned red planet (the destroyer) as the ancient Summarian's call it. (gas from the brown dwarf as it swings by the sun will produce large plums that will look like horns).. following it will be several moons... (though the summarians say they are inhabited.. who knows)... I for one feel that its not to far fetched to belive it... we willjust have to wait and see... it suppose to be here in 2012.... this article says they should know in 2 years if real.. so thats close enough to justify the belief that it eexists..

    February 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • oldostritch

      Are you sure it's not cherries?And who are the summarians?Are they some race of accountants?I've never seen plums that could be confused with any chitinous growth though i have seen them in other colours than black such as red, yellow, green and purple.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hillman

      A giant red planet, with horns, that is coming to detroy us from outer space? Just what exactly IS too far-fetched to believe?

      February 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • daws

      You, for one, also have no evidence on which to base your theory. Just wild conjecture.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sen

      When I read this article that's exactly I was thinking. The 12th planet Nibiru that the supposedly translated Sumerian texts highlight. I guess we will have to just wait and see. Hopefully we will know the details within our lifetime.

      February 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ostriches rule

      OMG, thank you so much for the laughs, Oldostrich. The "summarians"!

      February 16, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Hitchhiker

      It's Ok, we can just eat the large plums.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. AaronC

    As far as the 2012 stuff goes (1) the Mayan calendar doesn't actually end on this date and (2) it's not clear that something 4 times the size of Jupiter at 15000 astronomical units would have much effect upon Earth. For reference Jupiter is about 5 astronomical units (earth-to-sun distances) away and even Neptune is only 30 AUs. Something 15000 AUs away, even with 4 Jovian masses, would therefore have little gravitational influence, because gravity obeys an inverse square law. A simple calculation shows of 4/(3000^2) would have less than 1 millionth the gravitational effect that Jupiter has on us. Of course, it could kick up some comets from the Oort and theoretically send one our way, but it would take way more than a year to reach us at this distance.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Thinking7

    I find it interesting that so many people like to laugh off articles like this. Anyway, for the ones who want to know – this was known far before CNN decided to report it. Here's some info –
    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 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Russ

      is there a reason why you're repeating this for a 3rd time??

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

      He's stuck in his groove. Someone smack him.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • sangye thubten

      It is all very interesting and prophecy has a saying about the Destroyer Planet coming, or could it be Planet X or Nibiru. When you think the ego of certain men when compared with size of these planets, hey I must say we are just nothing, not even a dust and yet we behave worse than animals. It is about time we kick the ego off and start to looking looking at ourself and others around us. Love and Compassion is more important than wasting money making killing machines in the sky. Don't hide the technology we invented 40 years ago, for each and every day you hide it, the deeper you go into the negative, not just now but the rest of your reincarnations, be it on Earth or elsewhere.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kieran Murphy

      knowledge is power, the lowest mass a star can be is 12 jupiters, not 5.
      ITS NOT A STAR.

      February 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • commongood

      There was no mention of mass but the size. As such, the Jupiter comparison in the translation can be volume.

      February 15, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      You're quoting hypotheses by a small set of scientists. There is NO agreement in the scientific community that Nemesis, or Tyche, exists, OR what its impacts if any could be. There's certainly not agreement that the earth experiences cyclical mass extinctions every 26 million years or that multiple mass extinctions even exist. There is also no agreement on what killed all the dinosaurs, OR in what time frame.

      And until scientists develop better ways to test time frames of extremely old events, anything that goes beyond several thousand years is largely based on guesswork, and unfortunately taught as "fact" rather than "working theory".

      February 16, 2011 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
    • c

      Dear Thinking 7, thank you so much for this information. Is it possible that if this information came out it would make the man made global warming theory suspect and therefore they couldnt release this information yet.
      Thank you so much for enlightening us. We fight wars to free other nations yet our very own news programs dont even give us accuarate news. Merely what they want to spin in order to sway us toward a specific ideology. CNN must not have been paying attention to let your information through 😉

      February 16, 2011 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Donald from Holland

    I can assure you that it is just the ego of Simon Cowell, that has surpassed Jupiter and will take over from 2012 on...

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

      Just imagine if Simon Cowell and Sarah Palin had a love child. Assume!

      February 16, 2011 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. sssimon

    "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."

    No – it isn't like that at all. This is science we are talking about not an unexplainable "feeling".

    February 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. darth vader

    its a literal death star if it caused mass extinctions

    February 15, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Northern2011

    People are commenting as if they know everything that Astrophysicists do not know. End of the world nut jobs, Planet X and N.W.O retards are out in full force Today.

    Make sure you don't tie that tin foil too tightly around your heads....let your blood flow smoothly. We wouldn't want you to black out, or would we ?

    February 15, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. unafy

    i.e. Nibiru is do exist!

    February 15, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bob

    Thinking? It is alright, those that do not believe and continue to debunk are the mindless robots in society that our leaders want us to be. Heck half the people on this blog are most likely hired to show opposition to it.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. LMNOP

    I heard that the massive missing object was stuck in Uranus.....but that's just a rumor.

    February 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitchhiker

      So thats where all that gas is coming from!

      February 16, 2011 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jay Maynard

    The Brown Dwarf gave me his Red Giant.

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