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. knoxg

    how is this different from Nemesis, peoposed by Dr. Robert Muller, UC Berkeley, about two decades ago.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richie P

      It is Nemesis rebranded. They want to shake off the negative connotation attached to Nemesis.

      February 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. GKS

    they are coming back to check on us...

    February 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • stewman109

      And I'm sure they'll be THRILLED when they see what we've become

      February 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rob Schaeffer

    Why hasn't Voyager reached it, or did it stop sending signals.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • What the..

      Well lets see. the the distance of the sun from earth varies between 91 and 94 million miles and this one is 15,000 times further.

      Oh yeah Voyager will be there tomorrow....

      February 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Suchi

    This is all a conspiracy to cover up nemesis by having a strategy of smoke screen. Shhhhhhhhhhh.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. George Hawkins

    The analysis that postulates one huge body at a great distance is not the only option. Two medium sized bodies in the Oort cloud in slightly different orbits will also have a long cycle time and may well be locked in orbital resonance, which would account for the high accuracy. We even have an example in the inner system: Jupiter and Saturn.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Suchi

    That way when people hear tyche exists they'll think it's something in a zoo or something.

    Theycant call it nemesis...that would automatically make people associate it with danger...they are trying to control the population....shhhhhhhhhhh

    Common, make their job easier man, they already had to fire robert Gibbs. Poor guy.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. stewman109

    It's Nibiru

    February 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason

      I can't wait when all these sheep start to believe.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. GoodAdvize

    Check out the sounds of the solar system at a site called transcendental tones!

    February 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Suchi

    Lol, little do they know..nemesis is actually a smoke screen to the smoke screen for an alien invasion.....,uahahahahahaah!

    What? You think you wouldn't jot e the giant spaceship. It had to go under cover somehow. Unfortunately the aliens that are going to invade your planet don't like me. In fact, they are probably going to torture me in jab bas dungeon.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Suchi

    Stewman, be quiet.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Starman

    Sorry Ed. It's dark matter,other than black holes. All the way down.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Aldebaran

    I love how people are saying it's not Nibiru... It was only written down by the Sumerians thousands of years ago... And now scientists can't hide the facts any longer. We are about to experience a cyclical extinction level event. The masses have been kept preoccupied with war on terror and global warming etc etc while the power elites scramble building holes in the ground to try and stick their heads in when the poop hits the fan.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      If you see any of the Anunnaki then let us know.

      February 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr Stephens

      Lol Poop

      February 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Suchi

    Think, the conspiracy is a conspiracy about making it a conspiracy. See, it's all conspiracy-y, like.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • GlenBeck

      Where's my chalk board?

      February 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Suchi

    It's all a conspiracy by the communists to break down the economy so they can usher in a Marxist utopia. You know im right. Just watch Glenn beck.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • stewman109

      ...and you're telling me to be quiet?

      February 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fallout

    Cool !

    February 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
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