Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Planet that Wouldn't Go Away: The Search For Planet X

Boy talk about an idea that just refuses to go away is this strange fascination with a dark companion, if you would, to the solar system. Be it a brown dwarf, black hole or gas giant, people continue to hold dear the idea that something large and mysterious lives out past the Ort cloud. In a recent IO9 article I was reading about data from the Wise space telescope that is suggesting that NASA supposedly having proof of a giant, Jupiter-sized planet orbiting the Sun way beyond Pluto.

Two astronomers, John Matese and Dan Whitmire have theorized that a planet, one they call Tyche, does indeed exist and they base this on observations of long duration comets. The strange thing about these comets is that each one's orbits have perturbations that can be accounted for if one accepts a gas giant constantly adding little variations.

Phil Plait, the creator of Bad Astronomy would like nothing more than for there to be a planet out there but instead of being reactionary, Phil takes a some what more critical stance in his Discovery article here


Dave Tackett said...

It is always surprising how little we know about the outer solar system. This, along with extra-solar planet hunting, is likely where most of the great astronomy discoveries of the next few years will come.

Beam Me Up said...

Excellent point Dave! The proof certainly is in the pudding. Some of the most startling and breath taking discoveries of the past few years have come right out of that discipline. Good call.

Thanks for the note