Object in Outer Solar System Hints at Planet X
Chadwick Trujillo and Scott Sheppard
have discovered a new distant object beyond the Kuiper Belt, similar to
is 450km wide and is orbiting the Sun at 80 Astronomical Units (1), making it the second
most distant object in the solar system discovered so far (after Eris (2)).
report the presence of a second Sedna-like object, 2012VP113,
whose perihelion is 80 AU. The detection of 2012VP113
confirms that Sedna is not an isolated object; instead, both bodies may be
members of the inner Oort cloud, whose objects could outnumber all other
dynamically stable populations in the Solar System."
What's really exciting about this discovery is its orbit. Sedna, 2012VP113
and almost a dozen other Kuiper
Belt Objects are aligned in an odd way compared with other objects in the solar
system. The implication of this is that there may be another large planet
well beyond Pluto affecting their orbits.
explanation for the alignment could be the tug of a rocky planet that is 10
times the mass of Earth that orbits the sun at 250 AU, the team calculate. That
world would be cold and faint – and would push and pull at the closer objects
like a distant but powerful puppeteer. NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey
Explorer (WISE) scoured this region of space in 2010 and 2011 searching for a
so-called Planet X and came up empty.
WISE was looking for the tell-tale warmth of gas giants – a rocky "super-Earth",
like the one Sheppard's team suggest, would be too cold for the telescope to
pick up. "This is too faint for WISE," says Ned Wright, the space telescope's
principal investigator. Even if the planet has a small internal heat source –
and absorbs some sunlight, it would still not generate enough heat to register,
he adds." (3)
It's a strange thing, because one of the arguments
made against an undiscovered Planet X is that the telescopes available now are
so powerful that it is surely not possible that they could have missed a planet
ten times more massive than Earth? Yet, as is indicated above, it is
indeed possible at the kind of distances we are discussing here.
There are likely to be a lot more of these inner
Oort Cloud objects discovered in the future. It's been 10 years since
Sedna was discovered, and at the time Sedna also hinted at a more distant object
(4). But Sedna was only one object. With two objects, we now have
increasingly compelling evidence that an unknown major body affected the outer
solar system in the past. Of course, there are other possible explanations
for these unusual orbital alignments in these very distant outer solar system
bodies. It may have been a passing star. It may have been an ejected
planet, or early binary companion. Or, it may have been Planet X, which may
still be out there affecting these orbits 4.5 billion years later.
What's potentially more remarkable about this
scientific Planet X speculation is that the orbit of the proposed Ten-Earth-Mass
'monster planet' would be out at about 250AU, which puts it in the territory for
Zecharia Sitchin's Nibiru. Now, Zecharia Sitchin's proposal for this
Planet X body was for a rocky world similar to Earth, but much more massive (5).
Should a Ten-Earth-Mass planet be pinpointed by astronomers - by triangulating
the various orbital anomalies of the new inner Oort Cloud objects like Sedna and
2012VP113 - then it would fit the bill for Nibiru. It was my later
revision of Sitchin's theories that introduced the idea of a brown dwarf system,
an idea which has since taken hold among Planet X hunters (6). But the
late Zecharia Sitchin always maintained that Nibiru was probably a self-heated
rocky world. He would have been unphased by the following statement, for
hopers: Note that NASA just released results from its Wide-Field Infrared Survey
Explorer that found nothing Saturn’s size (or bigger) as far as 10,000 AU, and
nothing bigger than Jupiter at 26,000 AU."
Despite this disappointment
regarding hopes for a sub-brown dwarf companion, leading outer solar system
astronomers seem to be admitting that a massive rocky planet 250AU from
the Sun could have been missed by WISE.
If Sitchin was right all along
I would be so delighted. It would have to be a pretty cold rock, though -
however massive - making the life issue a bit of a problem for those hoping to
find the Anunnaki on an habitable world with an atmosphere at this distance.
Nevertheless, Planet X is Planet X, and it's possible that a brown dwarf
lies way out there at the edge of the solar system as well. This
announcement could be a game-changer.
Written by Andy Lloyd, 27th March 2014
A further discussion about this discovery and
resulting astronomical speculation is on my June
Dark Star Blog
New Egyptian Chronology Fits
with Return of Nibiru
It is well known that ancient
Egypt was unified under one King, Menes, for the first time around 3000BCE.
Until very recently it was thought that the land along the Nile had been
originally settled by farmers about 1000 years before that. As someone
interested in the ideas of author Zecharia Sitchin, I always found it curious
that Egypt's chronology did not fit closer with the return of the planet Nibiru
to our skies, which Sitchin claimed to have occurred around 3760BCE. This
appears to be an remarkably important date, marking the beginning of the Nippur
calendar and the Jewish count of days. So, if this date was so significant
across the entire Levant region, then why wasn't the chronology of early ancient
Egypt also configured along the same lines? It's a puzzle I have often
pondered over. Fortunately, new radiocarbon dating work, performed by
scientists from the University of Cambridge, has lead to a rethink which
presents us with just such an alignment:
the chronology of the earliest days of Egypt has been based on rough estimates.
With no written records from this very early period, a timeline has been based
on the evolving styles of ceramics unearthed from human burial sites.
scientists have used radiocarbon dating of excavated hair, bones and plants,
with established archaeological evidence and computer models to pinpoint when
the ancient state came into existence. Previous records suggested the
pre-Dynastic period, a time when early groups began to settle along the Nile and
farm the land, began in 4000BC. But the new analysis revealed this process
started later, between 3700 or 3600BC."
For Egyptologists, this
presents new problems, because the gap between the initial inhabitation of Egypt
- by groups who farmed the land along the Nile - as indicated by this scientific
work, and the acknowledged dates for the unification of Egypt is really rather
short; at just several hundred years. By comparison, a similar evolution
from agriculture to civilisation occurred over a much longer time period in
Mesopotamia. So why was there such an accelerated race to civilisation in
Egypt during this period?
Again, from a Sitchinite
perspective, this may tie in with the return of the planet of the gods, Nibiru.
Sitchin argued that the periodic return of Nibiru, which he configures with the
Sumerian Shar of 3600 years, fitted with bursts of acceleration in human
only the presence of the Nefilim but also the periodic arrivals of the Twelfth
Planet in Earth's vicinity seem to lie behind the three crucial phases on Man's
post-Diluvial civilization: agriculture, circa 11,000 B.C., the Neolithic
culture, circa 7500 B.C., and the sudden civilization of 3800 B.C.
[in Mesopotamia] took place at intervals of 3,600
years. It appears that the Nefilim, passing knowledge to Man in measured
doses, did so in intervals matching periodic returns of the Twelfth Planet to
Earth's vicinity." (2)
In the case of Egypt, does this
argument also apply to the settling and emergence of agriculture along the river
Nile, leading to a speedy development towards the high civilisation of the first
Egyptian Dynasties? It would make sense, perhaps adding further
credibility to the concept that something remarkable occurred around 3750BCE.
2) Z. Sitchin "The Twelfth
Planet" p415, Avon Books, 1976
An Ancient Warning?
The ancient site of Göbekli
Tepe in Turkey has set back the clock of ancient civilisations by thousands of
years. It is thought to date to about 10,000BCE. Much of it remains
underground, still, and is in the process of being slowly unearthed. As
that process continues, its becoming increasingly likely that the key to
understanding this most ancient of sites lies in the sky. However,
deciphering any archaeo-astronomical clues is made tricky by questions about the
relative chronologies of various parts of the site.
recent paper written by archaeo-astronomer Giulio Magli speculates that the
reappearance of the star Sirius, as the skies shifted over millennia, was the
driving force behind the construction of this remarkable ancient observatory
thus proposing here the possibility that the structures of Göbekli Tepe were
constructed to celebrate, and then follow in the course of the centuries, the
appearance of a brilliant “guest” star in the sky: Sirius. ...Getting more
insight in the symbolic world of the builders would certainly be of help; many
of the animals [depicted on the stones] are tempting as representation of
constellations, and – curiously enough – one of the most elaborated stelae
present an upper register with three “bags” which are pretty similar to the
three “houses of the sky” occurring in the much (very much!) later Babylonian
“kudurru” traditions." (2)
You can see the "three bags" he
mentions in the image of Pillar 43, to the right (3). Is the Turkish site
a very ancient precursor to the civilisations that emerged much later in the
Levant? This seems to be the implication of the shared symbolism employed
here. Things take a more intriguing turn a little later into his paper.
Right at the end, he makes a few speculative points, including this rather
pillar 43 of enclosure D a suggestive, unique scene is represented: a sort of
vulture with human traits delicately “rises up” with a wing what seems to be a
sphere, or a disk. May this be a representation of the Heliacal rising of the
newly born star we today call Sirius...?"
This strange depiction seems to
me to also share a passing similarity to the Winged Disk symbolism later
employed by the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians alike. The broader
astronomical context seems befitting, too.
If this really is a remarkably
early precursor to the Winged Disk, then what does that tell us? Firstly,
that this is unlikely to depict the star Sirius. Secondly, that this
entire site is trying to tell us something important about a very, very ancient
event in the sky. Is it a warning to later generations, perhaps?
Putting my Sitchinite hat on, I would point out that the timing of the
construction of Göbekli Tepe may provide a further clue. Zecharia Sitchin
argued that the Biblical Flood took place around 13,000 years ago, an event
similarly described at length by the Sumerians and Babylonians:
endeavour to unravel the puzzle of the Deluge, then, focuses on Earth's climatic
changes, and in particular the abrupt collapse of the ice age some 13,000 years
This event, he speculated,
coincided with the transit of Nibiru through the solar system, triggering
monumental Earth changes (4). For a number of reasons, the story of
survival after this Deluge is connected with Mount Ararat, which is also in
Turkey. I wonder if this is mere coincidence?
Consider the following
possibility: About 13,000 years ago 'Nibiru' did indeed invoke a massive
cataclysm. Whatever the mechanism, the Ice Age was abruptly brought to a
halt by a global tsunami which wiped out low-lying human settlements all over
the world. Water levels rose permanently, and the survivors shifted ground
away from the submerged coastal areas and river valleys that they had lived in
for generations. This traumatic period was marked by a desperate fight for
survival and renewal which led in turn to an oral tradition that lasted through
to Biblical times, becoming the legend of Noah - as well as similar myths all
over the globe.
To supplement the warnings in
these oral traditions, the ancients constructed complex stone sites to depict
the arrival of Nibiru, and warn of what might happen next! This, I
suggest, is what Göbekli Tepe was all about. This strange disk on pillar
43 held by an anthropomorphic vulture may be the earliest known depiction of the
returning planet Nibiru, shortly to be followed by the cataclysm which almost
destroyed the ancient world.
4) Z. Sitchin "The Twelfth
Planet" pp401-4 Avon 1976
challenges planetary formation theory
When I first started writing
about Dark Stars back in 1999, I had little realisation that they might turn out
to be pink! At that time, knowledge about brown dwarfs was in its infancy
and there had not yet been any discoveries of ultra low-mass
failed stars. The larger versions, of masses between twenty and eighty times
that of our own Jupiter, were red - despite the tentative moniker 'brown dwarf'.
But as time has gone on, we have started to learn a lot more about the objects
on the lower end of the spectrum. These sub-brown dwarfs are now being
imaged, and their colours are turning out to be more magenta than red. In
the case of GJ 504b, which orbits its parent star that's around 57 light years
away, the colour is positively pink! Is this, then, the true colour of our
own as-yet-undiscovered Dark Star?
Well, I would say its about the
right size, weighing in at 4 times the mass of Jupiter. Astronomers
studying the sub-brown dwarf GJ 504b think its pinkish colour might be
attributable to a lack of cloud cover. It's also a lot younger than any
Dark Star we might have circling at some distance from our Sun.
Nevertheless, this might still be what we should expect of a "Nemesis"-style
object. Less returning wrathful god than stylish succubus, n'est-ce pas?
This new Pink Lady, which
fittingly lies in the constellation Virgo, is challenging planet-formation
theories, too. Although it is four times more massive than Jupiter, its
orbit around its parent star is further out than our own planet Neptune.
Which begs the question of how it formed, given that the accretion disk at that
distance should be insufficient to the task of building such a colossal world.
Did it migrate out to that distance? Or was another mechanism involved in
its creation? Either way, this discovery opens the door slightly wider to
the potential for a similar world to have formed in the outer solar system.
It's interesting to note that
NASA's program to monitor the heliosphere is known as ENLIL, one of the chief
gods of the Sumerians. Readers of the Dark Star website will be acquainted
with the heliosphere, particularly with regard to the asymmetrical structure of
its outer boundary turned up by the exiting Voyager probes (1). NASA have
put this dent in the heliosheath down to 'interstellar fluff', where I have
argued that the anomaly may be evidence of the existence of a sub-brown dwarf
companion orbiting the Sun in a highly eccentric orbit. Here's the
program's technical blurb:
is a time-dependent 3D MHD [magnetohydrodynamics] model of the
heliosphere. It solves for plasma mass, momentum and energy density, and
magnetic field, using a Flux-Corrected-Transport (FCT) algorithm. Its inner
radial boundary is located beyond the sonic point, typically at 21.5 or 30 solar
radii ... The outer radial boundary can be adjusted to include planets or
spacecraft of interest (eg 2 AU to include both Earth and Mars, 5 AU to include
Ulysses, 10 AU to include Cassini). It covers 60 degrees north to 60 degrees
south in latitude and 360 degrees in azimuth." (2)
Theoretically, the model could
solve for magnetohydrodynamics calculations right out to the Voyager and
Pioneer spacecraft, assuming they can provide useful data. This would then allow
NASA to model the heliosphere right out to its boundary with interstellar space,
where the interaction of exterior magnetospheres might be measured. This
might include the influence of the interstellar plasma flung outwards from the
galactic core, or of local companions whose own magnetospheres might press
against the Sun's own
shell at its heliopause.
The Sun is a complex MHD system
that is poorly understood, where momentum is passed from the Sun to its planets
through the expulsion of hot solar plasmas, including violent solar flares.
"Previously, theories describing the
formation of the Sun and planets could not explain how the Sun has
99.87% of the mass, yet only 0.54% of the angular momentum in the
solar system. In a closed system such as the cloud of gas and dust
from which the Sun was formed, mass and angular momentum are both
conserved. That conservation would imply that as the mass
concentrated in the center of the cloud to form the Sun, it would
spin up, much like a skater pulling their arms in. The high speed of
rotation predicted by early theories would have flung the proto-Sun
apart before it could have formed. However, magnetohydrodynamic
effects transfer the Sun's angular momentum into the outer solar
system, slowing its rotation."
companion sub-brown dwarf would provide substantial angular momentum
to the solar system, filling in the gap that this MHD effect
currently explains away. Bearing in mind how mysterious the
dynamics of the Sun remain, there is certainly room for debate on
this issue. Furthermore, given the potential link between the
magnetospheres of the Sun and a proposed massive companion object,
it seems telling indeed that NASA should choose ENLIL as the
Interstellar Boundary Explorer "IBEX" has
revealed a massive heliotail,
extending away from the Sun in a comet-like manner. The structure of this
tail is similar in shape to a four-leaf clover, and rotated slightly due to
external interactions from the local interstellar neighbourhood. Readers
may recall that IBEX previously revealed a
previously unknown ribbon of energetic neutral particles stretching across
the heliopause - the magnetic boundary of the solar system which the exiting
Voyager spacecraft have shown to be asymmetrical.
Various ideas have surfaced to explain the anomaly
and, once again, the complexity of the newly revealed heliotail might allude to
the presence of a local 'external' phenomenon lurking beyond the heliopause.
of the enigmas of the Planet X phenomenon is the apparent absence of the
appearance of 'Nibiru' over the last few thousand years. The last
historical record of Nibiru asserted by Zecharia Sitchin was for 3760BCE. A lot
of speculation has filled the void as to when it last appeared. Its
projected 3600 year orbit would place it around 160BCE, but the appearance of a
Messianic Star during the Graeco-Roman era creates a whole morass of issues.
Many have argued for a
different timeline where Nibiru appeared during a chronologically adjusted
Exodus event. Such a placement around 1600BCE then projects an imminent modern
sighting. Alas, no such luck, with 2003 and 2012 passing without incident.
Indeed, modern astronomy's observational power precludes a nearby Planet X body
at all. If it is out there, it really is very distant right now.
So how can we balance all this
against the 3600 year orbit proposed originally by Sitchin? Here's a new
possibility: Let's say the Dark Star has its own series of Trojan
asteroids lying along its
orbital path, similar to those which precede and follow Jupiter. These
so-called Trojans occupy stable LaGrangian points along an orbital path.
The Dark Star Trojans might then enter the solar system periodically when the Dark Star
is some distance out.
This additional sighting of
what are then essentially Trojan comet swarms as observed from Earth might be an aspect of the 'Nibiru' phenomenon.
Consider: if one were
to stand stationary upon Jupiter's orbit and watch as the gas giant periodically
sweeps past. Well one would first see its Trojans, then the planet, then the
following Trojans. Then nothing for a long time before this sequence is
repeated. Perhaps then the experience of Nibiru is similar. Comet swarm, Dark
Star interference, Comet swarm, then a long, long period of no activity.
If the Dark Star
orbital period is in the order of tens of thousands of years, then it's possible
that the 3600 year interval is that between the Dark Star and its Trojans. This
might explain the lack of appearance of Nibiru in modern times; i.e. the Flood
event was caused by the first set of DS Trojans 10960BCE, the Dark Star
interference was around 7360BCE, the following DS Trojans then created a
predicted and historically recorded visible phenomenon in 3760BCE at a point
when the brown dwarf was already a long way out and retreating - and nothing since then.
This scenario would explain the
series of Nibiru events in pre-history, as well as its evident absence since.
Written by Andy Lloyd, 3rd June
Migrating Earth - Science
Catches up with Sitchin
website has argued for years that the evidence in the solar system increasingly
points to a migrating Earth scenario. It seems, on the face of it, to be a
rather far-fetched idea. As with so many things, we take the Earth's
stability for granted, when in fact its history is pock-marked with catastrophe
and monumental change. We assume that the Earth was formed at the same
distance from the Sun and has stayed there ever since. But why should that
It is said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The
evidence for the early migration of the Earth (or possibly the Earth/Moon binary
system) takes the form of the water in various parts of the solar system. This
water, which consists of a mixture of isotopes, carries its own signature, which
various according to where in the solar system the water first formed.
Similarly, isotopic signatures can be derived from the elemental composition of
rocks, helping scientists to slowly piece together the puzzle of the early solar
system. Results are proving surprising.
The arguments involved become complex (and I have tried to do them justice in my
as well as on in-depth analysis on this
website) but the
picture that emerges from the evidence is that the water on Earth and the Moon
is unexpectedly abundant, given how close they are to the Sun, and that the idea
of water being brought to the Earth and Moon by comets is an insufficient
explanation for what we see here.
I have therefore argued that the best explanation for what we see is that the
Earth system initially formed where the asteroid belt is currently now, and
migrated in to its current position following an early catastrophic event
(involving the Dark Star). The more distant location for the early Earth
provides us with a strong explanation for why the Earth has so much non-cometary
water on it: it was too far from the Sun for the early solar heat to have driven
the volatile water off. Such a scenario is in keeping with Zecharia
Sitchin's theories of where the Earth formed.
grist for this particular mill is now provided by recent studies of moon rocks
which, when combined with the newest theories of Moon formation, lead the
scientists in exactly the same direction. Here's the quote from New
"So if the
moon's water came from Earth, where did Earth's water come from? The impact that
formed the moon happened within about 100 million years after solid bodies began
to form in the solar system – an eye-blink in astronomical timescales.
[Alberto] Saal [of Brown University, R.I.] doubts that Earth could have
accumulated enough water from asteroid strikes in that time. "The
implication, although I cannot absolutely prove it, is that probably the Earth
formed with water," he says. The trouble is that our planet is currently too
close to the sun for it to have retained water as it coalesced from the swirling
disc of material that was to become the solar system.
that Earth may have formed near where the asteroid belt is now, which is far
enough from the sun for water to condense. The planet would then have migrated
inward. It'll be a tough theory to prove, because Earth's geologic activity has
been recycling rocks, and thus erasing the evidence, for billions of years.
That's what makes moon rocks so valuable.
"All that we
know now is because we have a fossilised record of what
happened 4.5 billion
years ago on the moon," says Saal. "We couldn't get that conclusion from looking
at the Earth." (1)
It appears that the interior
waters of the Earth and Moon have the same source (2), leading to the conclusion
that they were always there from the beginning of the life of Earth. I
would imagine, then, that should the Inward Migration Hypothesis be correct,
then we should find similar water compositions among the asteroids in the main
belt. After all, if the Earth started its life there and was
catastrophically expelled, then shouldn't at least some of those asteroids have
been part of the early Earth? The composition of some meteorites suggests
planetary origins, or at least that the were once fragments of very large
planetessimals early in the life of the solar system:
most unusual about these rocks [designated GRA 06128 and GRA 06129] is
that they have compositions similar to Earth's andesite continental crust - what
makes up the ground beneath our feet," says University of Maryland's James Day,
lead author of the study. "No meteorites like this have ever been seen before."
A smoking gun may be around the
corner as space agencies and mining companies turn their attention towards
asteroids. Scientists working with
the data from WISE are currently piecing together the history of the asteroid
families, projecting back in time to glue the pieces of the original 'vases'
together (4). It seems evident to me that Sitchin's work is receiving
further vindication from cutting-edge science, and that these endeavours will
soon offer his idea some long-awaited proof.
Sceptics argue that there is no evidence that a planet larger than Mars ever
existed in the zone currently occupied by the asteroid belt. Furthermore,
the very presence of mighty Jupiter in this region makes the probability of the
formation of a terrestrial planet not just low, but virtually impossible.
not a single piece of concrete evidence that would suggest that there ever was a
full-sized planet in the asteroid belt,” said Nick Moskovitz, a planetary
scientist at M.I.T. “In the region of the Main Belt, it’s dynamically impossible
in the presence of Jupiter’s gravitational influence for small bodies to collide
and stick together to form a full-sized planet.”
the mass of the Main Belt — which extends just past the orbit of Mars to about
three and a half times the distance from the Earth to the Sun — has not changed
much over the 4.5 billion year life of the solar system. Moskovitz says the belt
that we see today is the result of a population of bodies that have spent the
subsequent 4.5 billion years interacting and colliding with one another."
I'm generally sceptical when
sceptics make such sweeping generalisations. The history of science is
awash with examples of such bold statements proving laughably erroneous years
later. One only needs to review the remarkable variety of extra-solar
planets discovered in the last decade or so to see how theoretical positions
held by astronomers beforehand subsequently required serious revision.
of the themes I took up in my novel "The
Followers of Horus" was the habitability of
a moon orbiting a sub-brown dwarf, and how this
might work in practice. The moon would have to
be very close to the primary body to sit within its
habitability zone - as Earth (just about) does with
respect to the Sun - and the likely outcome of this
is that the moon would be in a tidally-locked orbit.
Our own Moon is tidally locked, meaning that it
spins on its axis at exactly the same rate as it
orbits about the Earth, with the result that it
always shows the same face to us. Similarly, a
habitable moon orbiting a Dark Star deep in our
solar system would always show the same face towards
the failed star, meaning that one side of the planet
would be warm, the other much colder.
This, and other issues, have been recently discussed
by scientists (1). A paper considering whether
brown and white dwarfs might have habitable systems
has become a talking point (2). Because brown
dwarfs are still not very well understood, it is
hard to say for sure, but barriers to habitability
include the strong ultra-violet light bombarding the
moon during the early life of the brown dwarf,
causing water to be removed from the surface of the
potentially habitable world. Of course, such a
process likely also happened on Earth during the
early, hotter stages of the Sun's life, and yet here
we are, nonetheless. This is a point
overlooked by academics discussing the possible
existence of water on such worlds.
impact of water-bearing comets is a possible
solution to that issue, and it seems likely that a
cooled down sub-brown dwarf system in the comet
clouds would also pick up water in a similar way.
Another solution is planetary migration within the
system, where the moon migrates into the habitable
zone once the brown dwarf cools.
surprising abundance of water throughout our own
system should give pause for thought before
prematurely discarding the potential for life in
much smaller systems which, lacking the harmful
top-end radiation emission of a powerful star, may
be surprisingly conducive to life.
Written by Andy Lloyd, 12th April 2013
R. Barnes, R. Heller "Habitable Planets Around White
and Brown Dwarfs: The Perils of a Cooling Primary"
27th Nov 2012
thanks to Mark
I've uploaded an article I wrote 5 years ago,
first published in the German Nexus Magazine and updated a few months ago.
It contains a decent synopsis of the Planet X debate, particularly in the run-up
to 2012, as well as some new material about the Stations of the Cross in
Catholic churches and a possible connection to Nibiru:
Binary Brown Dwarf Discovery at
just 6.5 Light Years
remarkable detective work by astronomer Kevin Luhman of Penn State University
has revealed the existence of a pair of brown dwarfs located just 6.5 light
years from the Sun (1). Using data from the WISE
infra-red survey, he
noticed a shift in position of a light source across two of the survey's
detailed imaging of the sky during the 13 month period it was active seeking
heat sources in the sky.
The lateral movement of the
light source over the time period involved indicated that it was very close in
stellar terms. In fact, it was moving across the sky so fast that
it couldn't be in orbit around the Sun. It was too fast to be Nemesis, for
noticing its rapid motion in the WISE images, Luhman went hunting for detections
of the suspected nearby star in older sky surveys. He found that it indeed was
detected in images spanning from 1978 to 1999 from the Digitized Sky Survey, the
Two Micron All-Sky Survey, and the Deep Near Infrared Survey of the Southern
Sky. "Based on how this star system was moving in the images from the WISE
survey, I was able to extrapolate back in time to predict where it should have
been located in the older surveys and, sure enough, it was there," Luhman said.
combining the detections of the star system from the various surveys, Luhman was
able to measure its distance via parallax, which is the apparent shift of a star
in the sky due to the Earth's orbit around the Sun. He then used the Gemini
South telescope on Cerro Pachón in Chile to obtain a spectrum of it, which
demonstrated that it had a very cool temperature, and hence was a brown dwarf.
"As an unexpected bonus, the sharp images from Gemini also revealed that the
object actually was not just one but a pair of brown dwarfs orbiting each
other," Luhman said." (2)
Given its remarkable movement
across the sky, it must have first appeared to be an object within the solar
system. But the distance of 6.5 light years was established by Dr Luhman
based upon parallax measurements. This he accomplished by working
backwards through previous sky surveys, finding the object further and further
back in time. Joining the dots in this way provided him with some useful
data to get the bigger picture of this object's distance from the Sun.
Here's the thing though - this
brown dwarf binary previously evaded recognition despite having
been imaged on no less than three separate occasions before WISE, as far back
as 1978! Not only that, but it was moving across the sky at a relatively high
speed, which perhaps should have made it more obvious to astronomers on the
look-out for solar system objects. Dr Luhman explains this by noting that the
galactic plane has not been covered well in previous searches for nearby brown
low galactic latitude of WISE 1049−5319 is likely the reason why it was not
found in previous surveys for nearby brown dwarfs, which have tended to avoid
the galactic plane." (3)
I applaud the great detective
work by Kevin Luhman, but I think that this also highlights how hard these
objects are to find, despite the incredibly powerful telescopes and sky surveys
that have been used in recent years. Which surely flings the door wide open for
more potential discoveries in the years ahead?
Russia felt the full force of a disintegrating
meteor crashing through the skies this week. It seemed to be a repeat of
the 1908 Tunguska event, albeit on a much smaller scale. That said, about
1200 people were injured by the shattering of an estimated 200,000 sq m of
windows in the Chelyabinsk region in the Urals, so from the point of view of the
locals clearing up it was pretty damned awesome in its scope. Scientific
opinion varies about the size of the body that created the massive fireball
streaking across the Russian skies, caught so vividly by many car cams (1).
Weirdly, the recognition of the widespread use of dashboard cams in Russia
appears to have been the main beneficiary of this story. The explosion in the
sky which injured so many Russian folk, and which had the energy of many
Hiroshima bombs, has quickly become a footnote to the week's global news events.
People laugh at what they fear, and I guess it
should be no surprise that this should quickly bring forth satirical comment
from 'serious' scientific media (2). Doomsday meteorites and resigning
Popes in the same week can give us the feeling that the locks to the Apocalypse
are being opened one by one. But what's lost in all of this is the very
real threat to us from the sky. When one is being constantly told that the
threat from space is remote, even negligible, and that those expressing concern
about any such threat are effectively nutcases, then its certainly sobering to
note that these events appear to occur regularly, without warning from
astronomers. The fact is that if the Russian event had occurred over a
large city, then the devastation would have been far worse. And this
meteor wasn't even all that large!
We are reminded that for all the amazing imaging
of distant galaxies and other remote sources of light in the Universe, our
ability to spot dark objects on our doorstep is still very hit and miss.
This should be a sobering observation as we review our knowledge of our own
solar system. Perhaps more sobering still is the possibility that the
incoming rock was shot down by the Russians. A thought-provoking Russian
video had appeared on YouTube that appears to show a streak of light moving
towards the fireball just prior to it brightening (3). It's
speculative, of course, but is such an interception plausible?
Latest estimates indicate that the object struck
the atmosphere at about 18 kilometres per second - an incredible 40,000 miles per hour
(4). From there its deceleration would have been extreme: The sonic
boom that shattered all those windows in the region was caused by the meteor
dropping below the speed of sound while the space rock was more than 20-30 miles
above the surface of the Earth. Initial entry into the atmosphere to
disintegration over Chelyabinsk took just over 30 seconds. Given that, say, Patriot missiles have a
range of about 100 miles and can reach velocities of MACH 5 (5), catching up
with a rocky fireball as it brakes down to MACH 1 and lower is plausible - but
the Russians would surely have had to have the missile readied when the comet
first made entry into the atmosphere, anticipating an interception course.
There's certainly evidence that the Russians are developing their own missile
defence systems (6).
Initial media reports in the region claimed that
the meteor had indeed been intercepted by Russian air defences, although this
was later officially denied (7). If the Russian video is accurate in its depiction
of a missile interception (3), the Russians would have been tracking the object
whilst it was still in space. Which begs the questions - how long did they
know about this threat, whom did they inform, and why did they not announce
afterwards that they had successfully knocked out a large meteor streaking
though the atmosphere over Russian soil? If the Russians really did knock
this thing out of the sky successfully, wouldn't they want us all to know about
it? After all, Putin is about as alpha-male a world leader as you could get,
and I would have thought his comet-busting prowess would greatly enhance his
strutting on the world stage.
Perhaps I'm naive though - nations still like to have their secrets and maybe
this capability is a big one. A bigger secret might be knowing that a comet/NEO
was in-coming, keeping it secret because it might hit a city and then zapping it
fortuitously - you couldn't admit to having known because everyone would want to
know why you never told anyone it was in-coming in the first place. At the
moment, NASA's official answer to an incoming asteroid seems to preclude the
intercept potentiality: They recommend praying (8).
This is the intriguing question posed by Dark Star
editor Lee Covino in this, his first online Sitchinite essay. This article
has created plenty of controversy, becoming the focus of a significant chunk of
Linda Moulton Howe's interview on Coast-to-Coast on 28th February 2013.
Lee's article has been updated to address some of the issues raised on the show:
Scientists have agreed upon a redefinition of the
'habitable zone' around various types of stars. The zones have shifted
away from the stars, highlighting the likely positions planets have to be in to
retain liquid water. The new 'Habitable Zone' in our solar system now lies
between Earth and Mars. These two planets, one enjoying large oceans and
luscious habitats and the other apparently dead, are at opposite ends of the
our own solar system, the boundaries of the habitable zone have shifted from
between 0.95 astronomical units (AU, or the distance between Earth and the sun)
and 1.67 AU, to the new range of 0.99 AU to 1.7 AU. "It's a surprise that
Earth is so close to the inner edge of the habitable zone," said astronomer Abel
Méndez of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo." (1)
Given the wealth of life-supporting habitats on
this planets, both in hot and cold climates, one would quite reasonably imagine
that the Earth should be found in the centre of the life-supporting belt around
the Sun. Sticking with the usual Goldilocks analogy, Earth's porridge is pretty
damn hot, as it turns out, and Goldilocks is not amused!
It's surprising to think that moving the Earth just a couple of million miles
closer towards the Sun should effectively wipe out the chances of life here.
Why? Presumably the thinking is that in the past, being closer to the Sun would
have caused the water deposited on this planet to have been swept away by the
early Sun's radiation. Without water, no life could have evolved here.
It seems to me that the theoretical model of habitability now has something of a
problem with the fact that this planet is just so obviously life-supporting,
even luscious in terms of life and water.
I think this helps the case for our planet having
migrated inwards at some time in the past. Now, you might argue that Earth was,
say, 1.5AU originally, in the habitable zone all along, and then (somehow)
migrated inwards to the hottest part of that region once its water/atmosphere
ecosystem was well established. Or, you could look at a broader migration
whereby Earth moved in from further afield, affected by larger planets in its
vicinity, like Jupiter (or something else...). The inner asteroid belt seems a
reasonable suggestion, allowing the water ice on our planet to have become
readily established early on, and settling other issues about where the objects
from this vicinity ended up.
What is amazing is how little fuss scientists make of this issue. Perhaps they
find it a bit embarrassing as an anomaly. They readily discuss the migration of
the outer gas giants to explain all kinds of blatant anomalies, but when it
comes to the Earth seemingly being in the wrong place, they merely shrug their
Written by Andy Lloyd, 31st January 2013
Clara Moskowitz "'Habitable Zone' for Alien Planets, and
Possibly Life, Redefined" 29th January 2013,
Implications for the Dark Star
Theory and Sitchin's Interpretation of Myth
For those reading the Dark Star theory and related
works who wonder whether such a distant object could really be exhibiting such a
wildly eccentric orbit, the latest thinking from astrophysics theorists is a
resounding 'yes'. In fact, models of wide binary systems indicate that
there is a tendency towards eccentricity over time, with the companion skirting
across the planetary system of the main star only very rarely.
"The orbits of very distant or wide stellar
companions often become very eccentric – ie.
less circular – over time, driving the
once-distant star into a plunging orbit that
passes very close to the planets once per
orbital period. The gravity of this
close-passing companion can then wreak havoc on
planetary systems, triggering planetary
scatterings and even ejections.
""The stellar orbits of
wide binaries are very sensitive to disturbances
from other passing stars as well as the tidal
field of the Milky Way," said Nathan Kaib, lead
author of a study published today in Nature
describing the findings. "This causes their
stellar orbits to constantly change their
eccentricity – their degree of circularity. If a
wide binary lasts long enough, it will
eventually find itself with a very high orbital
eccentricity at some point in its life.""
The stellar companion discussed above would
obviously have a much more significant mass than a sub-brown dwarf companion, so
its violent impact on the inner planetary system of the main star would be
As it happens, the astrophysicists who ran these
computerised simulations created scenarios where the Sun had a wide binary
stellar object. They discovered that in over half of the cases they
modelled of our own solar system, one of the major gas giants in our system
would eventually be ejected. Of course, that also means that many of the
scenarios they considered did not create this level of chaos, and I would
have thought that the risk of such massive disruption would be proportional to
the size of the binary companion modelled.
Additionally, these binary star orbital evolutions
take a significant period of time:
""This process takes hundreds of millions of
years if not billions of years to occur in these
binaries. Consequently, planets in these systems
initially form and evolve as if they orbited an
isolated star," said Kaib [postdoctoral
fellow in the Center for Interdisciplinary
Exploration and Research in Astrophysics].
"It is only much later that they begin to feel
the effects of their companion star, which often
times leads to disruption of the planetary
This is most
interesting indeed. If the Sun formed
alongside a distant sub-brown dwarf companion,
then the orbit that companion took around the
Sun probably changed greatly over the course of
hundreds of millions of years. It become
more eccentric in that time, its orbit
eventually evolving to such a point that it
grazed close to the Sun, quite a while into the
development of the solar system. This
strikes me as being pretty close to the scenario
written about by Zecharia Sitchin - the usurper
Marduk crashing unexpectedly into the planetary
zone after the Sun's system had become fairly
well established. I believe this was the
Late Heavy Bombardment event some 3.9 billion
years ago - 700 million years after the Sun's
birth. I think that that date, combined
with an approximate mass of, say, 10 Jupiter
masses, for the proposed companion might provide
some useful data points for future modelling of
the development of the solar system.
Our solar system contains two
asteroid belts - the 'warm' on located between
Mars and Jupiter, and a second 'cold' one beyond
Neptune, known as the Kuiper Belt. Well,
it turns out that other stars - Fomalhaut and
Vega - also have these two distinct asteroid
belts. Scientists speculate about whether
their planetary systems might be similar to our
own, containing multiple planets of varying
sizes. Additionally, Fomalhaut has its
very own 'Planet X'-type body (Fomalhaut B), in
that as it has a planet in a highly elliptical
orbit that lasts about 2000 years:
composite image (above), taken with the Hubble
Space Telescope, reveals the orbital motion of
the planet Fomalhaut b. Based on these
observations, astronomers calculated that the
planet is in a 2,000-year-long, highly
elliptical orbit. The planet will appear to
cross a vast belt of debris around the star
roughly 20 years from now. If the planet's orbit
lies in the same plane with the belt, icy and
rocky debris in the belt could crash into the
planet's atmosphere and produce various
phenomena. The black circle at the center of the
image blocks out the light from the bright star,
allowing reflected light from the belt and
planet to be photographed. The Hubble images
were taken with the Space Telescope Imaging
Spectrograph in 2010 and 2012. Credit: NASA,
ESA, and P. Kalas (University of California,
Berkeley and SETI Institute)" (1)
The planetary and
asteroid systems around our Sun may be
commonplace. Can the same be said for
additional planets in wide, elliptical orbits?
This website has been advocating the presence of a
sub-brown dwarf in the outer reaches of the solar system for many years.
One of the ideas that excited my interest in a massive Planet X object is the
potential for life to exist on one of its moons. It's a simple proposition
really - the moon is warmed by the heat from the sub-brown dwarf, as well as the
stresses created by the moon's proximity to the hot gas giant it orbits around.
The warmth would allow liquid water and an atmosphere around a substantial moon,
and then the potential for life - right here in our own solar system, way beyond
But what kind of life are we talking about?
Scientists have a way of down-playing the potential for any kind of complex life
in the solar system, mostly due to the evident lack of a supportive environment,
like that on Earth. Even if a Dark Star was able to provide enough heat on
its moon for an atmosphere and liquid water, how would vegetation emerge without
strong light, like that from the Sun? Scientists have discovered here on
Earth that plants don't necessarily need a lot of the Sun's light to flourish -
in some cases, very little. But that's not the same as saying that
vegetation might thrive in a Dark Star system.
Now, NASA are wondering out loud about what plant
lie might look like on alien worlds - where the light from the parent star is
different to that of our Sun, and the atmosphere contains different gases,
creating a different set of conditions for the light that eventually lands on
potential plant-life. For my theory, their conclusions are very exciting.
Far from dismissing the potential for photosynthesis to occur in an environment
where infra-red is the dominant light landing on the habitable moon, NASA appear
to endorse the possibility:
"Each planet will have
different dominant colors for photosynthesis, based on the planet’s atmosphere
where the most light reaches the planet’s surface. The dominant photosynthesis
might even be in the infrared." (1)
"Light of any color from deep
violet through the near-infrared could power photosynthesis. Around stars hotter
and bluer than our sun, plants would tend to absorb blue light and could look
green to yellow to red. Around cooler stars such as red dwarfs, planets receive
less visible light, so plants might try to absorb as much of it as possible,
making them look black." (2)
Of course, without visiting such worlds, we cannot
yet know for sure. But the potential for a sub-brown dwarf between here
and the nearest star, combined with this new enlightened thinking, presents
opportunities for the presence of complex life in the outer reaches of our own
solar system. If there's non-green vegetation growing freely in a hotbed
of reddish light and infra-red, then why could animal life not follow?
As widely predicted, the world did not come to an
end on 21st December 2012. Yay. While I'm sure that many a
modern-day Mayan will be enjoying the festivities of welcoming in the 14th
Baktun, there will be many New Age folk wondering what happened. Just as
the end of the second millennium after the birth of Christ did not herald an
apocalypse, or even a technological meltdown, so did the turning of the Mayan
calendar not bring forth the fires of hell for humanity. This much we
know. What we still don't know is why the beginning of the Mayan calendar
was set over five millennia ago, long before the Mayan civilisation itself got
into its stride. What event in their own prehistory set forth that great
rolling stone of time that has now successfully completed its 13th revolution?
Perhaps we may never find out. But given the
lack of an obvious astronomical event to coincide with this year's winter
solstice, it does not appear to reflect a prediction of a return of anything,
certainly not Nibiru. Indeed, it has to be said that amalgamating the
Mayan calendar and the return of Nibiru was always problematic. After all,
the concept of Nibiru is to be found in the early writings of Mesopotamian
cultures, whereas the Mayans appear to have been a purely American civilisation,
untouched by the Old World. Only if they were influenced by a common
precursor could one really connect the two, and the evidence for that is scant
(although, controversially, it may actually exist).
More likely, then, the connection between Nibiru
and 2012 was one of 'common sense' - at least within an alternative, New Age
context. The connection brought together the ending of a long Age and the
return of a long-period planet, both of which might ring the alarm bells of
imminent destruction. It is clear why such a concept captured so many
people's imaginations. The problem was always the lack of any kind of
evidence underlying this connection, beyond reference to an ancient Celtic text
whose own provenance is, at best, questionable.
Has the hunt for Planet X been damaged by the 2012
connection over the course of the last decade? Undoubtedly - although that
should be balanced against the clear raising of awareness of the issue of a
rogue, returning planet among the general population who might never have heard
of Nibiru otherwise. Whether any might go on to ponder the merits of the
case for a significant undiscovered planet in the solar system remains to be
seen. I hope they do, because there is still a case to answer.
Andy Lloyd, 21st December 2012
Rocky Worlds can form around
Naysayers in the astronomical community who have
doubted that rocky planets like Earth and Mars can form around brown dwarfs have
been forced to reconsider. The minute building blocks of planets appear in
protoplanetary disks around normal suns, in the form of millimetre-sized grains
orbiting en masse around the fledgling star. They are then thought to
accrete together, coalescing into planets as the developing clumps take on
sufficient gravitational power to sweep up the matter around them. But
scientists were doubtful that the building blocks for this process could form
around much smaller 'stars', like brown dwarfs. But now a new study has
revealed a protoplanetary disk around a brown dwarf which resembles that of
regular stars (1).
""We were completely surprised
to find millimetre-sized grains in this thin little disc," said Luca Ricci of
the California Institute of Technology, USA, who led a team of astronomers based
in the United States, Europe and Chile. "Solid grains of that size shouldn't be
able to form in the cold outer regions of a disc around a brown dwarf, but it
appears that they do. We can't be sure if a whole rocky planet could develop
there, or already has, but we're seeing the first steps, so we're going to have
to change our assumptions about conditions required for solids to grow," he
"In the near future, the
completed ALMA telescope will be powerful enough to make detailed images of the
discs around Rho-Oph 102 and other objects. Ricci explained, "We will soon be
able to not only detect the presence of small particles in discs, but to map how
they are spread across the circumstellar disc and how they interact with the gas
that we've also detected in the disc. This will help us better understand how
planets come to be.""
For me, this is an exciting prospect, offering us
the first real glimpse of how planets might form around dwarf stars like brown
dwarfs, and perhaps in time even smaller objects, like sub-brown dwarfs.
This might then provide insight into how a binary object orbiting the Sun could
have developed its own rocky planet system at such a great distance from the
heat of the Sun itself.
Written by Andy Lloyd, 1st December 2012
1) L. Ricci, L. Testi, A. Natta, A. Scholz
and I. De Gregorio-Monsalvo. ALMA OBSERVATIONS OF ρ-OPH 102: GRAIN GROWTH AND
MOLECULAR GAS IN THE DISK AROUND A YOUNG BROWN DWARF. Astrophysical Journal
Letters, 2012 (in press)
Anomalies in the orbits of the planets, including
Earth, have been one of the main arguments for a second sub-stellar body in the
solar system. Potentially helpful to these arguments is the paper just
published by astronomer Konstantin Batygin,
of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts
(1) which proposes that companion stars might be responsible for the way
planetary orbits are often titled away from the stellar equator. In the
Sun's case, its planetary system is misaligned to its own plane of spin by
Astronomers have been studying extra-solar
planetary systems containing Hot Jupiters, and it was initially thought when
these strange planets were first discovered that their migration patterns caused
the entire planetary systems they moved through to tilt. But that argument
has become more complicated by the discovery of even weirder Hot Jupiters, which
themselves exhibit tilted and even retrograde orbits (2). Something else
is evidently causing these remarkable tilts. And given that the Sun's own
system is also tipped, then that mechanism has repercussions for our own system
The new theory recently offered brings to bear the
gravitational influence of sibling stars born alongside the star in question. As
stars are often born in clusters, the proximity of a nearby star in the cluster
can cause the tilting of a star's fledgling planetary system.
""Misaligned orbits are
actually a natural outcome of disk migration—once you take into account the fact
that planetary systems are usually born in multistellar environments," [Batygin]
says, noting that many stars have stellar companions..."I think somewhere in the
Milky Way, there's a star that's responsible for tilting us." He suspects the
sun once had a companion star that tipped the solar nebula by 7°, then fled the
scene after the planets arose." (4)
Once again, we are confronted with the need for a
massive companion combined with the lack of companion itself. While it
remains quite plausible that a companion star has indeed moved away from the Sun
long ago, it is also surely possible that the same effect might have been
achieved through the action of a sub-stellar companion, like a sub-brown dwarf.
Indeed, the very notion that Hot Jupiters might have had sufficient influence to
have tipped distant planetary systems lends credibility to such an idea.
When we consider clusters of stars forming
together, we also have to allow for many of those stars being dwarf stars, right
down to just a few Jupiter masses. Therefore, the tipped orbits of the
planets around the Sun might also have been caused by a rogue brown dwarf
object. And, given how difficult these things are to detect, its possible
that the fellow responsible is still hanging around out there...
Astronomers have confirmed the existence of a
distant rogue planet moving through interstellar space. Although it does
not appear to be attached to a star system, it is accompanied by a cluster of
stars moving in a similar direction. Yet, it is independent of them, leading to
a number of question about its provenance (1).
This is the first concrete discovery of a rogue
planet drifting through space, in gas giant/brown dwarf category. In itself, it
confirms the potential for many such objects moving pretty much
independently through interstellar space. This is important for people
considering the likelihood of Sitchin's Twelfth Planet theory because it
confirms that not only do rogue planets of great size exist, but that they
perhaps exist in sufficient numbers to make the chances of an incursion into a
star's planetary zone a non-negligible possibility. In other words, it boosts
the chances that he was right when he proposed back in 1976 that a rogue planet
might find its way into the solar system - up until very recently astronomers
discounted this as practically impossible. They were wrong.
I heard about this discovery on the news last night on BBC radio. I knew that
this must be a sub-brown dwarf, of the category of a 'Dark Star'. Yet, the term
brown dwarf was not used at all (2). They ended up calling it a 'Lonely
Planet'. Rather poetic, to be sure, but it did make me wonder whether the term
brown dwarf has become toxic among astronomers, who fear immediate association
with Nibiru/Planet X etc.