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. kat ginorio

    How about some Positive Harmonics that just could move things.

    February 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clark Nova

      Sure. (Now where did I leave my positive harmonica?)

      February 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Just Me

    This has certainly been entertaining!

    February 17, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 4myfriend

    heard about this most interesting new invisible star. went to comments, hoping to find contructive conversation. instead discover emotional kindergarten class. so dissapointing. u talk about ur predjudices, u yak about ur party bents, u expose ur ignorance about the holy word. Let those who have ears hear. Let those who have eyes see. The Holy Word Of God goes hand in hand with science. In the last decade, as scientific progress goes forward, more and more biblical facts have been proven as true. Ice in space. The prehistoric Leviathan in the ocean. One carved stone with The House of David inscibed on it. The Sacred Floor of tiles in the prison yard of the valley of Meggido{site of future Armeggedon} which is inscribed to THE GOD JESUS CHRIST. pay attention, people, ur snipes are ridiculus. LET THOSE WHO HAVE EARS HEAR.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Knuckledrager

      ME NOW WORRIED! ME SCRATCH BUTT, ME PICK NOSE, ME DIGG WAX OUT OF EAR, ALL SAME FINGER. ME SNIFF FINGER, SMELLS BAD. ME BRING HAND TOWARD MOUTH......ME GO BACK TO SUCKING THUMB AND CONTEMPLATE EXISTENCE AS IT RELATES TO NAVEL FUZZ.

      February 17, 2011 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Tyche

      ur spelling is ridiculus

      February 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chamber9

      1John 4: 4-6
      Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God, he that knoweth God heareth us, he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of Truth, and the spirit of error.

      February 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bobinator

    Wow, I guess we'll have to wait a bit to know for sure... Until then I must say you all sound like kids at the dinner table that don't want to eat your peas... Eeat your PEAS!!!

    February 17, 2011 at 4:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chitown Jason

      But Bob, I hate peas!

      February 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. IntrepidXmind

    So NASA is telling us they can see a planet 1/4 the size of earth in a Galaxy billions of light years away... But they can't see a planet bigger then Jupiter in our own solar system??.. I don't think they will come clean about it until we can see it with a naked eye.. Just like they did not give us a communication disruption warning about the recent sunspot activity and storm until China was already effected...

    February 17, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amenti

      IntrepidXmind – Do you have any thoughts on what "Tyche" is?

      February 19, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • AstroNommer

      They can't see planets of distant stars directly. They can detect periodic decreases in the stars brightness as the planets pass in front of it. They can't "see" the brown dwarf either, they just know that something is out there by the gravitational effects.

      February 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • IntrepidXmind

      I think it could be a dwarf star as NASA says... All this doomsday talk of Plant X is not really my thing.. I just like to go i by facts of trusted sites ( well maybe I should say official sites ).. If this huge thing was discovered already but then ruled out... I say there is something we don't know... Specially if they are linking it to mass extinctions... Although I don't see this happening in any of our lifetimes.. So whatever is there I say they always knew it was there even if it has limited light.. If they can take pictures of asteroids the size of cars about that far away.. I'm sure they can see that planet..

      February 21, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • IntrepidXmind

      Wow! So you are saying they can tell the size of planets and that they have rock surfaces and the exact orbit alignment just by monitoring the suns brightness being effected by orbiting planets? Amazing!.. Got to love NASA though..

      February 21, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • IntrepidXmind

      Some say there is a link to the unusual orbit of the planet Sedna... This is interesting knowing that we are getting this advanced in technology... I was recently trying to look up when the last mass extinction might have occurred.. If anybody has a link please post it.. Thanks!

      February 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TR

    If this object passed through before then the only ones who actually know what happened then would have to live forever. The historic record is flawed because it is representative of the knowledge at the time. Even in the Bible (2000+years ago) we have to make interpretive adjustments because of the knowledge of the day as relates to prophecy. The only perported eternal beings that would know anything are God , Jesus, or angels. The book of Revelations puts forth a future that ends pretty violently. God gave us a scenario and landmarks of time to use. Well, pay attention most of these things have come to pass. Google " Biblical wormwood"

    February 17, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. christophorm

    This planet/ brown drawf star is coming and it's coming from the south, unto a near orbit around the sun.They already know about it but breaking it to you gentlely.The rich have for one built a underground city under the new airport in colorado.A airport that they did not need.The queen of England has bought land in colrado and if you remember the Cia or fbi moved there not to long ago because when the poles shift it will cause lots of land to become under water like the 2012 movie...im not kidding folks.

    February 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. forgotten american

    The binary star notion for our home star has been bandied about for quite some time. In the beginning it was easy to dismiss and simply say we don't have the proper equiptment to monoritor or establish, however today we have the Hubble and NASA will not point the lens that way. However we have est, that we travle in a 26,000 yr. cycle and that strange things have been recorded by the anceints. There is strong evidence of a world wide flood about 3600yrs ago, and remember if the orbit of this object is in a decreasing arc in towards the sun the effects will increase every 3600yrs short cycle. Consider the distance between planets, as each 3600yr cycle comes the object comes closer to the Earth, as we enter the end cycle of the 26000 yr. wecan hope it passes with minium destruction however move backwards and look at the conditions on Mars. It seems that something blew the atmosphere off the planet and caused the massive scar on the surface, we live in an electric universe,

    February 17, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. d.trojan

    this planet is a well known planet in ancient cultures and is called nibiru.... it has a ovular rotation around our sun and another star.. the reason for extinction is the gravatational affects when it comes close to earth basically tshtf all volcanos erupt. earthquakes ....continents rip apart some dissapear some come anew ... the reason they arent just coming out and saying it is niburu is becuase the ancients that knew of it knew of its destruction and wrote about all of it most notably the sumerians who were probably the best astronomers ever and also created our entire system such as math, reading, writing government etc etc the only bad thing about researching the sumerians is there is so much retarded conspiracy nuts making up absurd stuff becuase of what the sumerians told

    February 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. gfdfff fddf

    this planet is a well known planet in ancient cultures and is called nibiru.... it has a ovular rotation around our sun and another star.. the reason for extinction is the gravatational affects when it comes close to earth basically tshtf all volcanos erupt. earthquakes ....continents rip apart some dissapear some come anew ... the reason they arent just coming out and saying it is niburu is becuase the ancients that knew of it knew of its destruction and wrote about all of it most notably the sumerians who were probably the best astronomers ever and also created our entire system such as math, reading, writing government etc etc the only bad thing about researching the sumerians is there is so much retarded conspiracy nuts making up absurd stuff becuase of what the sumerians told.........

    February 17, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Clinton Waller

    This brown dwarf companion star approaches the orbit of Pluto before heading back out into deep space again. Both on the way in and on the way out its gravitational field scatters matter from the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud, resulting in a burst of comet activity in Sol's solar system.

    February 17, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Adam

    Yes nibiru exists, is that too much for the majority of this stupid population to comprehend?

    February 18, 2011 at 8:36 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • bizmark

      I'm with you broheim... some buddies at my house took a vote on its exsitance to see who falls where on the issue though.. u know, just to be democratic:

      Bigfoot: yay
      Jesus: nay
      Nessie: nay
      Good looking lesbians: yay
      Easter Bunny: undecided
      Yer mom: too busy in my pants to vote

      February 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chitown Jason

      Do you have evidence that good-looking lesbians exist? I'll believe it when I see it. Keep your phony religions to yourself!

      February 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike D

    Bunch of hype over nothing. Poor reporting.

    An article this week in The Independent suggested the new planet, called Tyche, had already been found among data from the WISE mission. This prompted the WISE team to post a rebuttal on their Facebook page: “Not true. A pair of scientists published a paper stating that if such a big planet exists in the far reaches of the Solar System, then WISE should have seen it. That is true. But, analysis over the next couple of years will be needed to determine if WISE has actually detected such a world or not.”

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-giant-planet-possibly-outer-solar.html

    February 19, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Kool Krunch

    You wanna know why global warming is happening, there's your answer. This is probably heading in our direction.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Kool Krunch

    Two years to confirm will be too late.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
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