New Planet Found in Our Solar System?

Odd orbits of remote objects hint at unseen world, new calculations suggest.


Artist’s conception of a small icy object beyond Pluto.
Illustration courtesy G. Bacon, STScI/NASA

Richard A. Lovett in Timberline Lodge, Oregon
for National Geographic News
Published May 11, 2012

An as yet undiscovered planet might be orbiting at the dark fringes of the solar system, according to new research.

Too far out to be easily spotted by telescopes, the potential unseen planet appears to be making its presence felt by disturbing the orbits of so-called Kuiper belt objects, said Rodney Gomes, an astronomer at the National Observatory of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

Kuiper belt objects are small icy bodies—including some dwarf planets—that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Once considered the ninth planet in our system, the dwarf planet Pluto, for example, is one of the largest Kuiper belt objects, at about 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) wide. Dozens of the other objects are hundreds of miles across, and more are being discovered every year.

What’s intriguing, Gomes said, is that, according to his new calculations, about a half dozen Kuiper belt objects—including the remote body known as Sedna—are in strange orbits compared to where they should be, based on existing solar system models.

The objects’ unexpected orbits have a few possible explanations, said Gomes, who presented his findings Tuesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Timberline Lodge, Oregon.

“But I think the easiest one is a planetary-mass solar companion”—a planet that orbits very far out from the sun but that’s massive enough to be having gravitational effects on Kuiper belt objects.

Mystery Planet a Captured Rogue?

For the new work, Gomes analyzed the orbits of 92 Kuiper belt objects, then compared his results to computer models of how the bodies should be distributed, with and without an additional planet.

If there’s no distant world, Gomes concludes, the models don’t produce the highly elongated orbits we see for six of the objects.

How big exactly the planetary body might be isn’t clear, but there are a lot of possibilities, Gomes added.

Based on his calculations, Gomes thinks a Neptune-size world, about four times bigger than Earth, orbiting 140 billion miles (225 billion kilometers) away from the sun—about 1,500 times farther than Earth—would do the trick.

But so would a Mars-size object—roughly half Earth’s size—in a highly elongated orbit that would occasionally bring the body sweeping to within 5 billion miles (8 billion kilometers) of the sun.

Gomes speculates that the mystery object could be a rogue planet that was kicked out of its own star system and later captured by the sun’s gravity.

Or the putative planet could have formed closer to our sun, only to be cast outward by gravitational encounters with other planets.

However, actually finding such a world would be a challenge.

To begin with, the planet might be pretty dim. Also, Gomes’s simulations don’t give astronomers any clue as to where to point their telescopes—”it can be anywhere,” he said.

No Smoking Gun

Other astronomers are intrigued but say they’ll want a lot more proof before they’re willing to agree that the solar system—again—has nine planets.

“Obviously, finding another planet in the solar system is a big deal,” said Rory Barnes, an astronomer at the University of Washington. But, he added, “I don’t think he really has any evidence that suggests it is out there.”

Instead, he added, Gomes “has laid out a way to determine how such a planet could sculpt parts of our solar system. So while, yes, the evidence doesn’t exist yet, I thought the bigger point was that he showed us that there are ways to find that evidence.”

Douglas Hamilton, an astronomer from the University of Maryland, agrees that the new findings are far from definitive.

“What he showed in his probability arguments is that it’s slightly more likely. He doesn’t have a smoking gun yet.”

And Hal Levison, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, says he isn’t sure what to make of Gomes’s finding.

“It seems surprising to me that a [solar] companion as small as Neptune could have the effect he sees,” Levison said.

But “I know Rodney, and I’m sure he did the calculations right.”

New Planet Found in Our Solar System?.

Evidence mounts for sun’s companion star

Public release date: 24-Apr-2006

NEWPORT BEACH, CA (April 24, 2006) – The Binary Research Institute (BRI) has found that orbital characteristics of the recently discovered planetoid, “Sedna”, demonstrate the possibility that our sun might be part of a binary star system. A binary star system consists of two stars gravitationally bound orbiting a common center of mass. Once thought to be highly unusual, such systems are now considered to be common in the Milky Way galaxy.

Walter Cruttenden at BRI, Professor Richard Muller at UC Berkeley, Dr. Daniel Whitmire of the University of Louisiana, amongst several others, have long speculated on the possibility that our sun might have an as yet undiscovered companion. Most of the evidence has been statistical rather than physical. The recent discovery of Sedna, a small planet like object first detected by Cal Tech astronomer Dr. Michael Brown, provides what could be indirect physical evidence of a solar companion. Matching the recent findings by Dr. Brown, showing that Sedna moves in a highly unusual elliptical orbit, Cruttenden has determined that Sedna moves in resonance with previously published orbital data for a hypothetical companion star.

In the May 2006 issue of Discover, Dr. Brown stated: “Sedna shouldn’t be there. There’s no way to put Sedna where it is. It never comes close enough to be affected by the sun, but it never goes far enough away from the sun to be affected by other stars… Sedna is stuck, frozen in place; there’s no way to move it, basically there’s no way to put it there – unless it formed there. But it’s in a very elliptical orbit like that. It simply can’t be there. There’s no possible way – except it is. So how, then?”

“I’m thinking it was placed there in the earliest history of the solar system. I’m thinking it could have gotten there if there used to be stars a lot closer than they are now and those stars affected Sedna on the outer part of its orbit and then later on moved away. So I call Sedna a fossil record of the earliest solar system. Eventually, when other fossil records are found, Sedna will help tell us how the sun formed and the number of stars that were close to the sun when it formed.”

Walter Cruttenden agrees that Sedna’s highly elliptical orbit is very unusual, but noted that the orbit period of 12,000 years is in neat resonance with the expected orbit periodicity of a companion star as outlined in several prior papers. Consequently, Cruttenden believes that Sedna’s unusual orbit is something indicative of the current solar system configuration, not merely a historical record. “It is hard to imagine that Sedna would retain its highly elliptical orbit pattern since the beginning of the solar system billions of years ago. Because eccentricity would likely fade with time, it is logical to assume Sedna is telling us something about current, albeit unexpected solar system forces, most probably a companion star”.

Outside of a few popular articles, and Cruttenden’s book “Lost Star of Myth and Time”, which outlines historical references and the modern search for the elusive companion, the possibility of a binary partner star to our sun has been left to the halls of academia. But with Dr. Brown’s recent discoveries of Sedna and Xena, (now confirmed to be larger than Pluto), and timing observations like Cruttenden’s, the search for a companion star may be gaining momentum.

Contact: Heidi Hall
heidihallmedia@hotmail.com
949-399-0314
Binary Research Institute

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Evidence mounts for sun’s companion star.

Brown dwarf star in our solar system

Michael Breen

Brown Dwarf star in our solar system orbiting around the Sun.

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m winding down from the work week by surfing my usual news sites when I came across the headline Earth under attack from Death Star. Well that piqued my attention, so I click on the link and check it out. These were words that jumped out at me immediately – “The brown dwarf star (five times the size of Jupiter), which scientists have named Nemesis is believed to be orbiting around our sun”. Wow, now that’s news. A brown dwarf star in our solar system huh? That’s a bit of a game changer. So now we are living a binary star system? That’s taking duality to another level. I’ve linked to all the relevant content if you’re unfamiliar with this, but many of you might react in a similar way to me.

[…]

The Binary Research Institute is an organisation in the US that has been studying the effects on earth from the precession of the equinox. They have spent a great deal of time and money researching the binary solar system theory – Brown Dwarf and all. I highly recommend you checking it out for yourself.

[…]

On 21st December 2012 at 11:11am GMT the sun will align perfectly with the galactic plane (or equator) of the Milky Way galaxy. Essentially the sun will fill the eye of the galaxy. This event, according to the ancient Mayan civilisation, represents the end of one age and the beginning of another, while astrologers are referring to this event as the Cardinal T-square. At the same time the earth’s wobble will position our planet in such a way where the north node pole will be directly aimed towards the sign of Capricorn at zero degrees – the Age of Aquarius? There’s just so much going on at this time in the heavens that can’t be ignored. Brown Dwarf or not, things could get interesting.

[…]

Brown dwarf star in our solar system | Michael Breen | Karmic Ecology.