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. Steveo

    We are all doomed unless I am provided the funds to build a giant slingshot and shoot this mother far off into unknown reaches of the universe. All that's required is for each human living today to give me $100 and I'll begin my project. Any leftover money will be spent on the 2012 GOP convention.

    February 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • GW Bush

      put me down for 2 donations... lets see... wut it that like $650 ?

      February 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Socks

    Do evangelical christians hit up every thread on CNN asking people to search for stuff that's totally unrelated? How are those comments approved/allowed? It's just spam.

    February 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sarah Palin

    I can see it from my porch!

    February 20, 2011 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. mythos

    Nibiru

    Ernst Weidner in: Reallexikon der Assyriologie, vol. 2, de Gruyter, Berlin 1978, p. 381
    "When Marduk fixed the locations (manzazu) of Nibiru, Enlil and Ea in the sky"

    Wolfram von Soden in: Zeitschrift fĂĽr Assyriologie
    Nibiru, which is said to have occupied the passageways of heaven and earth, because everyone above and below asks Nibiru if they cannot find the passage. Nibiru is Marduk's star which the gods in heaven caused to be visible. Nibiru stands as a post at the turning point. The others say of Nibiru the post: "The one who crosses the middle of the sea (Tiamat) without calm, may his name be Nibiru, for he takes up the center of it". The path of the stars of the sky should be kept unchanged."

    When the stars of Enlil have been finished, one big star – although its light is dim – divides the sky in half and stands there: that is, the star of Marduk (MUL dAMAR.UD), Nibiru (né-bé-ru), Jupiter (MULSAG.ME.GAR); it keeps changing its position and crosses the sky.

    The Kolbrin-Book of Manuscripts; Chapter Five-The Destroyer-Part 3:
    Manuscripts 5:1-5
    5:1 The Doomshape, called the Destroyer, in Egypt, was seen in all the lands thereabouts. In colour, it was bright and fiery; in appearance, changing and unstable . It twisted about itself like a coil, like water bubbling into a pool from an underground supply, and all men agree it was a most fearsome sight. It was not a great comet or a loosened star, being more like a fiery body of flame.

    February 20, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. Blondie

    The WISE telescope has just been hibernated:

    http://www.space.com/10895-nasa-wise-space-telescope-mission-ends.html

    February 20, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. coastal

    There"s a Charlie Sheen joke here.....I can feel it,,,,,,,

    February 21, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    27 Million years to orbit the Sun. Something in our dinky solar system takes 27 million years to orbit. We humans are such a nothing in the scheme of the universe it scary.

    February 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mona

    Could they perhaps have the orbital rotation wrong? Could this be the Mayan's Planet X and Sumerians Nibiru !!

    February 22, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Man with no name

    Funny how this article brings so many comments about god and religion. For those of you that posted comments about the universe being gods work because it's too complex to have originated from the big bang I ask you this. Which is more unbelievable?

    1. The universe and everything in it originated from the big bang.
    2. Some all mighty being, existing somewhere, decided to create the universe and everything in it out of nothing, then just sit back and watch us. Why is there only one all mighty being? Where did he come from? Who created him? Did he just come into existance out of nothing?

    Really people, think about it with any ounce of logic and you will see that there is no proof of either but at least the big bang sounds plausible, and the theories are based upon real science. And don't tell me the bible is proof, because it isn't. My daughter got a letter from Santa Clause this year, that does not prove that he exists.

    February 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Equation of one

    I wonder when it does come closer and the earth increasingly reacts violently, and the sun as well will we all die?

    February 24, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. jhonny blazeeee

    ITS HEAVEN

    February 24, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jhonny blazeeee

    IT IS HEAVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVENNNNNNNNNNN

    February 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. john

    Time to play Planetary Billiards! When this big ball swoops into the solar system at high speed on its very big eliptical orbit. Hopefully our ball doesnt get knocked into the corner pocket.

    February 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JAY

    FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE

    February 25, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Alan

    LOL I am absolutely laughing my head off at some of the comments on here. I guess those that originally reported "Nibiru" were around 27 million years ago?

    "Its 27 million-year orbit could also explain a pattern of mass extinctions on Earth, scientists say."

    Also please note the COULD explain and not that it DOES explain >.< It`s all hypothesis at the moment. Besides Pluto isn`t a friggin planet lol.

    As for the religious comments why are you even here when they are talking about gathering evidence, something that can`t even be found for religion?

    February 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
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