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. corey

    did I just hear "NIBIRU"

    March 1, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Redpilltaker

    There is an astronomers club in Spain that has been trying to put forward their theory that this object is already identified but mislabeled as super nova remnant G1.9. Many people has called this complete BS but they seem to have garnered the support of some hard scientists and are trying to get some telescope time to be able to gather the data required to prove their hypothesis. If anything, the idea of solar systema as a binary one has been on the table for a long time now.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. WomenOnGuard

    Yea, we are just nanoparticles in our solar system. Makes you have a different perspective on our life and our planet, doesn't it?

    March 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. anuenlilenki

    ...y'all know its nibiru...zecheria sitchen told everyone. Lol just scared.

    March 3, 2011 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nate

    Nemesis?!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_(hypothetical_star)

    March 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jebadai

    Thank God and Jesus they made the Earth flat. It'll be really hard for anything to hit a flat surface.

    March 11, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tom Thumb

    Can we PLEASE STOP calling them brown dwarfs and use the correct term LITTLE BROWN PEOPLE!?!?! IS THAT SO HARD!!!! (Spoken in a high pitched crippled midget with sausage fingers voice)

    March 11, 2011 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. leo

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow

    A new planet *laugh*
    more 2 worry about

    March 21, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. WRC

    So, when is this brown star expected to be at its closest point to Earth and what can we expect from that phenomena?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. عبدالملك الحق

    my brothers
    for true search in google about "" Planet Saqar ""

    April 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tony Rozycki

    Amazing & fascinating to me there may be something to the Nemesis dark star theory after all! Now I better actually read the article tho am familiar with Nemesis.

    May 17, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. kenneth Griffith

    If this theory has any acceptance in the scientific community--I HAVE NOT SEEN IT. When it os on discovery chanel let me know

    July 9, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  13. kenneth Griffith

    I have a theory people want to worry about something and little green men are easier to disclaim than an an invisible dwRF STAR IN A CLOUD OF GAS.

    July 9, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. kenneth Griffith

    tHE GLOBAL WARMING THAT IS WORKING ON THE POLAR ICE CAP IS DUE TO THE CHINGING ORBIT OF THE EATH AROUN THE SUN--CURREWNTLY THE EARTH IS IN A NEARLY PERFECTLY ROUND ORBIT AROUN THE SUN-THIS HAPPENS EVERY 100,000 YEARS-AND THE POLAR ICE MELTS AT THE SAME TIME-IN 50000 YEARS THE EARTH WILL BE in an elipitical orbit putting the earth for most of the year far from the sun........then the eaeth will be in an ice age-waiting for the ice to retreat-then 50000 years will pass and the ice will have retreated and the polar ice melted-at that time the earth will start making an elipitical orbit again--this was discovered by MALINKOVITCH YEARS AGO AND IS THE REAL CAUSE FOR MUCH OF THE CHANGING EARTH WEATHER PATTERNS

    July 9, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • yourfullofit

      Totally false.

      August 26, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. jdirt2005

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

    so......when can i start screaming "we're all going to die"?

    August 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      ::consults watch::

      Right abooooooout...now.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
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