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. Gary

    We finally know where the second shooter was when JFK was shot.

    February 16, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. TrixieTheDuck

    I, for one will not surrender.

    February 16, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. David Namir

    Wow...that distance (15,000 times the distance of Earth's from the sun) comes to 1 trillion, 395 billion miles. That is roughly the size of next year's Federal budget deficit! One dollar per mile! 🙂

    February 16, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Conservative Evangelical

      We could make our budget better by not spending any more money on the Afghanastan and Iraq wars... I think that would be a great place to start. There is no reason to spend billions of dollars on another country's government. The military is supposed to "protect" us from outside threats... instead they are protecting other people while we pay for it!

      Horrible.

      February 16, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. TruthSeeker

    Niburu?

    February 16, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bob Kelso

    The Anunnaki.

    February 16, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Barack Obama

    This is my fault people of America

    February 16, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Poindexter McSmash

    No one knows what is lurking out side our visible scope. As far as I can tell, we shouldn't exist anyway. What ever caused man, will be comin' round the mountain when they come...

    February 16, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. Merlin

    Is it Gozer? Do we call the Ghostbusters now?

    February 16, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • bizmark

      That depends.. are you the keymaster?

      February 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mariel

    "Life ends not with a bang but a whimper" Was that T.S. Eliot who said that? Someone I read in college. We may not have a big bang to end it all, just the decline of virtue, manners, and conviction which allows society to become a black hole.

    However, a guy on Five Doves (prophecy site) prophesied that a round brownish ball (similar to this object as defined in the original story) would hang in the sky over earth and destroy communications and food supply, and then three weeks later the Rapture of the Church would occur.

    Now that would be a Singularity worth living for, at last.

    February 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anna

      Yes, you´re right and you just reminded me of one of my favourite poets so I just had to look it up. It´s from "The Hollow men":

      This is the way the world ends
      This is the way the world ends
      This is the way the world ends
      Not with a bang but a whimper.

      February 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rhubarbmuncher

      Some say the world will end in fire;
      Some say in ice.
      From what I've tasted of desire,
      I hold with those that favor fire.
      But if I had to perish twice,
      I think I know enough of fate
      To say that for destruction, ice
      Is also great,
      And will suffice.

      February 19, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sue Larson

    Open your mind, refer to Zetatalk.com. This has been discussed since 1995.

    February 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clark Nova

      Zetatalk? Isn't that where that dimbulb Nancy, who used to plague sci.astro.amateur, hangs out? The one who convinced the Heaven's Gate cult that a huge UFO was following comet Hale-Bopp? I'm surprised she was never indicted for those deaths. Ask her how well she sleeps at night for me.

      February 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. soon

    the day the news is no longer available youll realise they lied all along. then all your windows blow out

    February 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Shakey t

    Sounds like Nibiru to me. The Summarians had it right!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Douglas Gray

    This sounds very similiar to what was first theorized by Robert Harrington, a well-respected astronomer, back in 1983, based upon perturbations in the orbits of Pluto and Neptune. Something with a substantial gravitational field appeared to be pulling on them from underneath the eclliptic. Seems strange that nearly 30 years later it would appear as a "new discovery."

    February 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • ADiff

      Clyde Tombaugh expressed his belief in the existence of a large gas giant or brown dwarf beyond Neptune in 1982, and indicated in this conversation, as well as other subsequent ones, he'd been looking for one for years at that time.

      The challenge of finding such an object is daunting though. New sensing capabilities however, may allow us to finally either confirm his beliefs, or more conclusively rule them out. Personally I'd love to see the somewhat 'out of fashion with the conventional wisdom' ideas of the charming old gentleman who was the Clyde Tombaugh I knew, vindicated.

      February 19, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. bennos

    this is dumb but this is true glise576g has life tyche is a star with a solar system of its own but goes also around sol(the sun)

    February 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Freethinker

    This is the beginning of the end of a cycle this planet goes through that kills nearly all inhabitants, and rearranges the land masses. There is proof everywhere if you know what to look for.

    http://www.truthofalltruths.org

    February 16, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • bizmark

      Wait! I read better with my tinfoil hat... okay, carry on.

      February 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
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