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

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 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. olLIE

    i don't what a planet's orbit has to do with extinction. aren't planets approximately the same distance from the sun at all times? (i think earth varies by 5 million km). so doen't that mean that the planets are also the same distance from each other at all times??? i just don't see the connection unless the planet has an extremely elliptical orbit

    February 16, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • CMSMW

      No, it doesn't mean that the planets will always be approximately the same distance from each other at all times. For example, sometimes during their revolutions Earth and Mars are on the same side of the sun and sometimes they're on opposite sides.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Actually, they are not always the same distance. Pluto (though no longer a planet) is not always the farthest. It crosses orbits with Neptune.

      And I think they mean, in terms of contributing to extintions, that due to its far reach in our solar system, sometimes it redirects things into our solar system that may have sailed by otherwise.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Scientist_GymRat

      Its theorized that as the planet passes through the Oort Cloud every so many million years, its hits that belt and sends shrapnel back toward the solar system and into a possible contact situation with earth... thats the danger

      February 16, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Commander Shepphard

      the planets revolve around the sun at different speeds and if they are all the same distance away at all times then wouldnt they always be alligned. the article says that the planet takes millions of years to revolve around the sun and this could have caused meteors from far away to be "sling shot" by the planets gravity

      February 16, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • yeoldhag

      HAHA! Wasn't that answered in 2nd grade science class??

      February 16, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      Actually, planets can have very elliptical orbits, such as a comet might. Take Neptune andPluto (a dwarf planet) for instance, every so often, they switch positions because their elliptical orbits intersect at certain points. All planets have at least somewhat of an elliptical orbit.

      February 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tella

      Its not that the planet comes and hits earth. If the planet in discussion is a gaint planet, because of its gravitational pull, it can drag any other object/ asteroid/dwarf plannet passing by it and push it into the solar system which could have come and hit the earth.

      February 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ryan

      the planet is said to orbit in the ort cloud so when it makes its pass at the closest point to earth it would let them go or somthing and they would smash into earth. and no the orbits of planets are not circler they are eliptical

      February 17, 2011 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      It's simple folks...the planet circles the sun in the Oort cloud, it stirs it up and sends comets and asteroids into the inner solar system. The 27 million years comes from the examination of fossil records and past extinctions on the planet earth

      February 19, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • 1 ROLEX


      February 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      We live in a binary star system, in case you didn't know that yet.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • maf1111

      i command you to pay attentionYL

      March 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mcaswell82

      Given Tyche's suspected size it's gravitational pull would be immense. I think the scientists are assuming that when it's closer to the Earth it throws off massive asteroids that can hit the Earth thus causing extinction.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Nyckita

      First of all you fool, and I'm sure this has already been explained to by others (thank you to those who have some knowledge of astrology and planets) if you look at a picture of the solar system and how the planets orbit you can clearly see that they do get closer to one another and that we do get closer to the sun as well as further away. Here is an image straight from NASA to better explain

      March 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Giovanni

      no. our planets travel in elliptical orbits, not circular ones.

      March 16, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. Aldebaran

    The Doomshape, called the Destroyer, in Egypt, was seen in all the lands thereabouts. In color 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 16, 2011 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
    • FreakMagnet

      Dude, what?

      February 16, 2011 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Cool story, bro.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • stonetrails

      LSD, mushrooms?

      February 16, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • ross

      pfffttt.................................(exhaling), yeah, I see now......

      February 16, 2011 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Teehee


      February 16, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • bob

      If you're going to quote, give credit where it's due.

      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 16, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Let us also mention that the "Kolbrin" is almost positively a hoax. The supposed manuscripts out of it have never been seen by any legitimate authority.

      February 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • impatient

      If you like the reference you may want to check out "worlds in collision" by emmanual velikovsky. Very old book but an incredibly interesting read.

      February 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sue Larson has been discussing this since 1995. A closed mind may not be able to accept this website, but for those who trust their own ability to evaluate information, it is a rich resource.

      February 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bennos

      its tyche the sun gravity has pulled tyche close

      February 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steveo

      Stay with it, you can hold on!!!

      February 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nyckita

      Thank you Bob for putting that out there. People need to learn to give credit where credit is due. As for you Jennifer, I would like to point out that you do not know if it is a hoax or not. Keep in mind that the Bible which is read and followed by many people was written by man multiple times over and no body calls it a hoax. Much of the information written in the bible has be disproved by science and people still do not consider it a hoax.

      March 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Clockwork

    Nothing like an astronomy article to bring out people who think they are humorous but are woefullly unfunny.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Or those who think they are funny by commenting on other people's comments. You are truly a gem.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • LEO

      Yes as we human.think we are perfact but one real issue is we do not have solid information of 2000BC!! so as before.we hv invented car,plane etc within short time.we think we r powerfull.if somebody says there is an invisible moon around us, dont be surprised

      February 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Knuckledrager

      ME SMASH.....ME CRUSH....ME..???? You've misconstrued my intent, either thru ignorance or stupidity. The question is yours or mine. "It's better to remain silent and thought a fool then to speak up and remove all doubt." re:W.C.Fields. Let's see where was I...Oh yes...ME STOMP MUDDLY BLOOD HOLE IN YOU....ME.. (trails off sucking on thumb).

      February 17, 2011 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. Hitchhiker

    Read the manual folks, the mice are always right.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. Doug Shiloh

    That's no brown star – that's a SPACE STATION!

    February 16, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Yoda

      It's too big to be a space station.
      Look at the size of that thing!
      Cut the chatter, Red 2.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • ross

      LMAO ! LMAO! LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 16, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • fteo

      Its a humongous Space station powered artificially and had 4 planets circulating around it. The Niburuans are our grand ancestors coming around for a "Goodbye you are free" wave before they disappear into a different dimension. There will be some earthquakes but nothing catastrophic. Many on earth will wonder what that really it but some will know who and why. Our consciousness will enable all to take that event without trauma. They will not land nor will they show themselves but will communicate telepathically with a good message.
      Dawn of the New Age of Aquarius for mankind.

      February 17, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. RodRoderick

    Scientists are pretty sure the gas is Helium. We plan to send some clowns out next month in an attempt to find a cheaper, more efficient way to support circuses around the USA. The President has declared this a major triumph for his term in office.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • stwebb

      Even an article about mice, mold & mildew, or perhaps tooth decay is enough to make someone bring up politics (and Obama)! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

      February 16, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      About the most unpolitical article you can read and somehow you find a way to bring politics into it.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • yayabaloo

      thats hilarity

      February 16, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Some Dude

      Obama must be doing a great job. If he was doing anything wrong, you could just go to politics, where you belong, and complain there. Instead, lacking any real criticism, you have to try to connect a celestial body over 4 billion years old to his administration.

      Step one: find an article on CNN.
      Step two: post insult to Obama, regardless of content.
      Step three: tell mom you're doing homework an need to stay on the computer.
      Well done.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Cal

    I know a brown dwarf is not the power furnace of our own sun, but I wonder if it would have enough heat to, say, sustain life on a moon that is orbiting it? I am also amazed that the gravitational force of the sun is powerful enough to hold on to this body, though on second thought, it may be doing a little of the "holding" itself.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      A few years ago i read Planet x theory. it sounded crazy then. now nothing seems impossible. they found water on the moon right. i wonder if it is a star if it is capable of sustaining life. maybe this is where the ufo's come from

      February 16, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • meep

      no way. God only created life on earth. There are no other life forms out there. It says so in the bible.

      February 16, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Alien Martian

      No where in the bible does it say that there are no aliens and life only exists on earth. If it did, the Bible would then be negating the life given to angels, Jesus Christ and himself.

      February 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • zacker150

      and the vatician himself said that life on other planets don't invalaidait the christian faith

      personlay i'm athist

      February 19, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Giovanni

      i hate when ppl bring up the bible with no knowledge of anything. you're a moron guy. ugh

      March 16, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. Shamrock6

    Wow...after reading these comments it's pretty obvious that we need to be destroyed and start over. Maybe the next batch of humans can get it right.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Catharsis

      Life After People. The basis? Good riddance freeloaders.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • kudzu

      Why do assume that there will be another batch of humans? If we humans are destroyed, it likely will be some other species on this planet that takes over.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Nyckita

      God yes PLEASE! Just destroy everything! Stupid people need to just die. If you're going to comment do some research on what you are commenting on! If you have a question ask it, but don't be stupid about it! My GOD!

      March 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jaywalker

    I usually don't leave comments but on this one I couldn't help offense but you all have an extra chromosome... This story is simply stating that given known gravitational occurrences the math gives evidence to something of enormous gravity affecting asteroids and comets randomly sending them on a collision course with earth. And as a brown dwarf goes the light that is emitted from that is about that of the moon however traveling millions of times further.... I would have imagined that only intelligent people would even be curious regarding such issue...guess I'll learn not to premise

    February 16, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      The moon does not emit light. The sun emits light, which illuminates the moon.
      Perhaps you should hold to your practice of not commenting.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Mankoda

      I don't think JW meant to imply that the moon emits light, just that the light emitted from a brown star might be comparable to that reflected off our moon.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Conservative Evangelical

      wait... if the moon doesn't give off light then how can we see it? God said let there be light. and there was light. He gave light to the sun AND the moon.

      February 16, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • there is nothing new under the sun

      There was, about a year ago, briefly, a chart showing the number of undersea volcanoes on planet earth. It is an exponential curve, by my reckoning (e^x). The elites have known for hundred's of years that a brown dwarf was headed our way. I suppose that this means that it is soon to wreak havoc on us all.

      February 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Josh

    Neptune is an ice giant, not a gas giant.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • FugginMorons

      But Uranus is a gassy giant...

      February 16, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Knuckledrager

      ME LUVS "FUGGINMORONS" (Yes, in that special way)

      February 17, 2011 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
    • bizmark

      @FugginMorons.. you sir, should be saluted for your comical genius. Carry on.

      February 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sandwich

    It's NIBIRU! We had better be prepared for the second coming of Inki and Enlil.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • howmuch


      February 16, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Conservative Evangelical

      That is incorrect. The only 2nd coming is of jesus. Enki and Enlil are false idols and should not be worshipped.

      February 16, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. spurios

    I knew a brown dwarf once, but his name wasn't Tyche it was Bob

    February 16, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Anna


      February 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • bizmark

      so funny, it deserves a non abbreviated reply. Laughing my @ss off right now. Are you sure it was bob and not tyrone?

      February 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ConcordantMind

    CNN for the love of GOD could you PUHLEEEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! monitor your comments sections! At least get rid of all all the comments having nothing to do with the article! I'm damn near ready to stop reading comments all together! I'm surrounded by idiots!!!!!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Cha-Ching

      They should start charging for comments – then we would only get the truly valuable ones. 😀

      February 16, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Conservative Evangelical

      And so you post a comment just like the ones you're complaining about seeing on here. Real smart.

      February 16, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • bizmark

      ohmygod! you're going to stop reading the comments? CNN is going to go bust... i mean couldn't you pick something a little less hurtful... like stop reading the ads instead... i mean no money is made there...

      February 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mr Stephens

    Join me Link, and I will make your face the greatest in Koridi!

    February 16, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. scroo yoo

    Ok,I confess


    February 16, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
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