Dark Star Blog 2008
Has the Dark Star been detected?
A NASA array of balloons high up in the Antarctica's stratosphere has picked an anomalous bombardment of high-energy electrons from deep space. The source is discrete, undetected, and mysterious.
Have scientists finally stumbled across the Dark Star? And why are they being cagey about the location of the signal? Here's a new article explaining all:
Dark Star Bombardment
Eris's Surface is Changing, But Why?
We've already seen how reflective the surface of Eris (the KBO formally known as Xena) is. Scientists have been able to study the surface, which is largely made up of methane ice, and some trace nitrogen ice. They have discovered that it has changed, in just two years.
When Eris is at the closest point of its elongated 560 year orbit, the ices exposed to the sun are probably able to vaporise to create a small, temporary atmosphere. This would then condense out onto the dark side of the dwarf planet, which rotates every 26 hours. This would then change the surface of the planet over time.
However, the changes to the surface - which have been noted through complex studied carried out by different astrophysics teams - are taking place when Eris is at its most distant point from the Sun. Theoretically, it should be too cold for the ices to evaporate off at the moment, even in the sun-exposed areas. So how is the change occurring? This is yet another mystery posed by Eris.
Planetary scientists have speculated that volcanic activity may have discharged material out onto the surface of Eris. But the dwarf planet seem rather small, and cold to have allowed this kind of activity, known as 'cryovulcanism'. Perhaps Eris is warmer than previously thought. Astronomers have been shocked before by some of the unexpected activity in the solar system involving liquid water...Enceladus, the water-spouting moon of Saturn, is a case in point. In my opinion, the Kuiper Belt and beyond guard a wealth of secrets, the clues to which are only just starting to come to light. I expand upon this when assessing the wealth of scientific evidence for Planet X in 'Dark Star'.
To get a flavour of the many incredible discoveries so far, also check out this excellent online article (with thanks to David):
Ian O'Neill "Strangest Kuiper Belt Objects: The Top Five" 9 November 2008
More Kuiper Belt Evidence
A new study attempting to find small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOS) is providing further grounds to believe that a catastrophic event of massive proportions befell the solar system within a billion years of its birth:
"Less than a billion years after the solar system began to form, "something happened that moved a lot of these bodies around", he says. The giant outer planets moved out of their initial orbits, scattering KBOs in their wake like bowling pins. "Basically, everything sits around for 700 million years and then boom – all hell breaks loose," Hal Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, has previously said of the period.
""After that phase of planet migration, when two objects encountered each other, they broke each other up," Charles Alcock [director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics] says. Smaller KBOs are thought to have formed during that more destructive phase of collisions, he says."
I continue to firmly believe that this event was the migration into the planetary zone of a binary sub-brown dwarf companion. I believe that the binary companion continues to lurk well beyond the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt. The evidence for this scenario builds year on year.
Maggie McKee "What happened to the Kuiper Belt's smallest objects?" 4th October 2008, with thanks to David
Planets collide in distant star system
It's a commonly held view that planets collide during the chaotic early period of a young star system. After this period, planets migrate into relatively stable orbital configurations, and things settle down. But things may not be as simple as that. A recent astronomical finding indicates that there may have been a massive collision between two planets in a distant mature star system.
Which opens up plenty of possibilities for the catastrophic incursion of a Planet X body in the distant past in our own solar system:
""It's as if Earth and Venus collided," said researcher Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy. "Astronomers have never seen anything like this before. Apparently, major catastrophic collisions can take place in a fully mature planetary system."
The researchers used X-ray data and other observations of a star called BD+20 307. They had assumed it was a young star, just a few hundred million years old, and the debris was leftovers from planet formation. But earlier this year, another study showed the star was actually a binary pair, and that the stars were billions of years old.
So why all the debris? The dust is about the same distance from the stellar pair as Earth is from the sun, and given current theories of planet formation, that debris should have been swept up into planets by now or pushed away by stellar radiation. It simply shouldn't be there."
Reference: Robert Roy Britt "Oh, My! When Worlds Really Collide" 23 Sept 2008, with thanks to Brian
Ulysses discovers dip in solar output
NASA's spacecraft Ulysses has a polar orbit around the Sun, and is monitoring its output of cosmic rays. They appear to have dipped off recently. Significantly. I include this piece here because it has repercussions for the size of the heliosphere, which I have argued in 'Dark Star' is also affected by the presence beyond it of a binary sub-brown dwarf.
The heliosphere has been found to be substantially warped. Perhaps the mysterious interaction which is causing that effect may be a factor here, too:
NASA Press Release: "Data from the Ulysses spacecraft, a joint
NASA-European Space Agency mission, show the sun has reduced its output of solar
wind to the lowest levels since accurate readings became available. The sun's
current state could reduce the natural shielding that envelops our solar system.
"The sun's million mile-per-hour solar wind inflates a protective bubble, or heliosphere, around the solar system. It influences how things work here on Earth and even out at the boundary of our solar system where it meets the galaxy," said Dave McComas, Ulysses' solar wind instrument principal investigator and senior executive director at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "Ulysses data indicate the solar wind's global pressure is the lowest we have seen since the beginning of the space age."
The sun's solar wind plasma is a stream of charged particles ejected from the sun's upper atmosphere. The solar wind interacts with every planet in our solar system. It also defines the border between our solar system and interstellar space. This border, called the heliopause, surrounds our solar system where the solar wind's strength is no longer great enough to push back the wind of other stars. The region around the heliopause also acts as a shield for our solar system, warding off a significant portion of the cosmic rays outside the galaxy.
"Galactic cosmic rays carry with them radiation from other parts of our galaxy," said Ed Smith, NASA's Ulysses project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "With the solar wind at an all-time low, there is an excellent chance the heliosphere will diminish in size and strength. If that occurs, more galactic cosmic rays will make it into the inner part of our solar system."
Those considerations aside, if the Sun's output is currently diminishing, will this have an effect on our own global weather, perhaps causing substantial cooling in the years ahead?
NASA"Ulysses Reveals Global Solar Wind Plasma Output At 50-Year Low" 23 September 2008, with thanks to Lee
Brown Dwarf Companion Imaged around Sun-like Star
This sub-brown dwarf companion lies a whopping 330 Astronomical Units from the parent Sun-like star. That takes it into the realm of our own potential Dark Star companion, and creates a very useful precedent. The system in question is very young, so the sub-brown dwarf (weighing in at 8 Jupiter masses) is still alight with its own limited supply of nuclear fuel.
Within a few million years, it will cease to give out light, and will be too far from the parent star to reflect sufficient light to be seen by us, even with the most powerful telescopes. It is also way to far away to create a 'wobble' effect in the parent star. So, to all intents and purposes, the sub-brown dwarf companion will become invisible.
But for now, we can see it, and marvel.
I think that the galaxy is full of wide-orbit companions like this. We simply can't detect them after the bright fires of their youth have become extinguished. Yet, these brown dwarfs makes for excellent life-supporting systems, expanding the potential for life throughout the galaxy. Indeed, if one or more of these dark companions lurks between us and the nearest stars, then the potential for life in our back yard is greatly enhanced.
Graham Gurrin "Is this the first picture of an alien planet in orbit around a sun just like ours?" 15 September 2008, with thanks to Martin
Origin of Brown Dwarfs
"Another possibility would be that brown dwarfs form in the outermost regions of emergent stars and become separated from them. This can, for example, occur as the result of a close encounter with a third star. Since almost all stars are born in star clusters, such encounters are not unusual. It is also possible that both scenarios of cosmic miscarriages take place.
"Both theories predict that brown dwarfs can only emerge at the birth of stars – similar to the situation with planets, incidentally. Thus there are presumably three quite different celestial bodies: planets, brown dwarfs and stars."
Initially, the full version of this news article seems to indicate that a Sun/small brown dwarf binary would be unusual. But, getting into the nitty-gritty reveals that BDs probably commonly form as wide binaries in stellar nurseries, and are affected by external factors, like passing stars. This is much more likely to be the situation with a Dark Star orbiting the Sun. It would have formed along with the Sun at a considerable distance, and may have been perturbed at an early point in the life of the solar system. I would predict it to still be present, whereas many astronomers, who advocate the early presence of one of these objects (to explain anomalies like the Kuiper Cliff), would argue that a passing star then wrenched the binary brown dwarf away from the Sun. I believe these new considerations move us on a step further towards validation of the Dark Star binary model.
Argelander Institute of Astronomy "Researchers reveal brown dwarfs as third class of celestial bodies after stars and planets" 22 August 2008, with thanks to David
I. Thies & P. Kroupa "A discontinuity in the low-mass IMF - the case of high multiplicity" Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 390: 1200–1206, 2008
Hale-Bopp's Lesson for 2012
Hale-Bopp was the most spectacular comet of recent years, achieving perihelion in 1997. Its orbital path is well established, making its position relatively straightforward to pinpoint 11 years on. But its relative luminosity is now very low (over 20). Remarkably, it was re-imaged last year, according to a scientific paper published in March 2008. It's heading out towards the planet Neptune at the moment. Yet, incredibly, it is still active as a comet, emitting a faint red tail.
Why am I mentioning this? Because such a situation should give pause for though for any readers who wonder whether a Planet X body is on its way for 2012. To arrive near to the Earth's orbit in less than 4 years, it would have to be significantly closer than Hale-Bopp is at the moment. If astronomers can still image the exiting comet, 11 years on, then its is simply inconceivable that we could not easily image a planetary body which is now even closer.
I firmly believe that the available scientific evidence points towards the existence of a massive Planet X body yet to be formally discovered. However, if it does exist, it is very, very far away, and is certainly not a harbinger of Mayan doom in 2012.
Gy. M. Szabo, L. L. Kiss, K. Sarneczky "Cometary activity at 25.7 AU: Hale--Bopp 11 years after perihelion" 20 March 2008
Solar System 'Curved'
"Launched in 1977, theVoyager 1 and Voyager 2 unmanned probes are now studying the edges of the heliosphere, the huge magnetic "bubble" around our solar system created by the solar wind as it runs up against the thin gas in interstellar space."
It turns out that the Heliosphere is warped, according to the data from the Voyager craft. This is a situation I have described in my book 'The Dark Star', published back in 2005!
It transpires that scientists are currently trying to tackle this issue, and that they are seriously considering the potential for an unseen binary companion. To be honest, what else could explain this?
"Scientists think this indicates that the bubble carved into interstellar space by the heliosphere, which extends well past the distant orbit of Pluto, is not perfectly round, and the solar system is shaped a bit like an oblong.
"Imagine a balloon is being blown up by the solar wind. You might imagine that if you took a balloon, which is mainly spherical, and pushed it against the wall, it would be blunted on one side," said Edward Stone of the California Institute of Technology, one of the scientists involved in the research.
That's what has happened with the heliosphere, he said."
But what, exactly, is this "wall'? It seems just plain obvious to me; a Dark Star. Surely the scientists working on this must now have enough useful data to make a decent stab at estimating the position of this unseen sub-brown dwarf. Come on, guys...you're almost there! It's just about the biggest discovery waiting to happen in the last 80 years of scientific astronomy. Get to it!!! The history books are waiting to be re-written.
Will Dunham "Solar system a bit squashed, not nicely round" 2 July 2008, with thanks to David and Barry, along with his academic contacts at Stanford.
New 'Dark Star'-style Exoplanet
"...But it was a new type of object presented at the symposium that raised particular interest and fuelled intense debate among the COROT science team and the 200 astronomers in attendance. Provisionally dubbed CoRoT-exo-3b, this object is something of an oddity. “It’s slightly smaller than Jupiter (0.8 times its radius), but follow-up observations from the ground have pinned it at 20 Jupiter masses. It would appear to be somewhere between a planet and a compact brown dwarf, and is twice as dense as the metal platinum,” explains Olivier Vandermarcq, COROT mission leader at CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre. “It might just be the missing link between stars and planets!”"
They're getting there!
"COROT discovers at least 2 new exoplanets" 30th May 2008, with thanks to Bruce and David, article on longer available online
Habitable Planet Discovered Around Brown Dwarf
This beautiful image illustrates an Earth-like world in orbit around a brown dwarf. The size of the brown dwarf, which lies some 3000 light years away, is 60 Jupiter masses, which is sufficiently large (just) to allow hydrogen burning. Its colour is a beautiful magenta.
Image credit: NASA
So the brown dwarf is a lot larger than the Dark Star, which is likely to be just 10% of the size. Nonetheless, this discovery sets some useful precedents for the Dark Star Theory. The Earth-like world is closer to its sun, and exists in its habitable zone. The discovery also proves that terrestrial-sized planets can exist around tiny dwarf stars.
"Our discovery indicates that
that even the lowest-mass stars can host planets," said lead researcher David
Bennett of the University of Notre Dame. "No planets have previously been found
to orbit stars with masses less than about 20 percent of that of the sun, but
this finding suggests that we should expect very low-mass stars near the sun to
have planets with a mass similar to that of the Earth."
"The planet orbits its host star at about the same distance as Venus orbits the sun. But the new planet's host star is likely between 3,000 and 1 million times fainter than the sun, so the top of the planet's atmosphere is probably colder than Pluto. The astrophysicists suggest the tiny planet supports a thick atmosphere, which along with possible interior heating by radioactive decay, could make the surface as balmy as Earth's. (And theory suggests the surface may be completely covered by a deep ocean.)"
Jeanna Bryner "Mini-planet almost fits Earth’s profile" 2 June 2008, with thanks to Roger
Coldest Brown Dwarfs Weighed
This is a recent infrared image of the dusty brown dwarf binary HD 130948BC. The binary is seen in the upper left and has a total mass about 11 percent the mass of the sun.
"The binary is in orbit around a young sun-like star, seen to the lower right. Astronomers have used ultra-sharp images obtained with the Keck Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope to determine for the first time the masses of the coldest class of "failed stars," a.k.a. brown dwarfs. With masses as light as 3 percent the mass of the sun, these are the lowest mass free-floating objects ever weighed outside the solar system. The observations are a major step in testing the theoretical predictions of objects that cannot generate their own internal energy, both brown dwarfs and gas-giant planets. The new findings, which are being presented in a press conference today at the American Astronomical Society meeting in St. Louis, show that the predictions may have some problems."
Theoretical models predict the masses of brown dwarfs based on their energy output and temperature. But when the team compared their mass measurements to the theoretical predictions, they did not agree. For example, the surface temperature of 2MASS 1534-2952AB was much cooler than expected given its current level of energy output, while HD 130948BC was much warmer.
"Astronomers weigh the coldest brown dwarfs with astronomy's sharpest eyes" 2nd June 2008, with thanks to David
Did the Earth once have other Moons?
Readers of the work of Zecharia Sitchin will be very interested in this news item:
"...An astrophysicist at the University of British Columbia in Canada, suggests small, asteroid-sized objects a few tens of kilometres across would have lasted the longest as Trojan satellites [caught in the LaGrangian points of Earth's orbit]. Matija Cuk estimates these 'lost moons' might have circled Earth for a billion years or more after the Moon's formation.
"They would have looked more like Jupiter or Venus in the sky than a satellite," Cuk told New Scientist. "They would have resembled very bright stars.""
Ker Than "Did Earth once have multiple moons?" With thanks to Lee
Cold Brown Dwarf Discovery
Now this is what I'm talking about! Here's an image of what is a rather red 'brown dwarf', which is very cold indeed by stellar standards. It would approximate a Nemesis-style object in our own solar system back yard. Here's the press release:
"An international team of astronomers has discovered the coldest brown dwarf star ever observed. This finding, to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, is a new step toward filling the gap between stars and planets.
"An international team  led by French and Canadian astronomers has just discovered the coldest brown dwarf ever observed. Their results will soon be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics. This new finding was made possible by the performance of telescopes worldwide : Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) and Gemini North Telescope, both located in Hawaii, and the ESO/NTT located in Chile.
"The brown dwarf is named CFBDS J005910.83-011401.3 (it will be called CFBDS0059 in the following). Its temperature is about 350°C and its mass about 15-30 times the mass of Jupiter, the largest planet of our solar system . Located about 40 light years from our solar system, it is an isolated object, meaning that it doesn't orbit another star.
"Brown dwarfs are intermediate bodies between stars and giant planets (like Jupiter). The mass of brown dwarfs is usually less than 70 Jupiter masses. Because of their low mass, their central temperature is not high enough to maintain thermonuclear fusion reactions over a long time. In contrast to a star like our Sun, which spends most of its lifetime burning hydrogen, hence keeping a constant internal temperature, a brown dwarf spends its lifetime getting colder and colder after its formation.
"The first brown dwarfs were detected in 1995. Since then, this type of stellar object has been found to share common properties with giant planets, even though differences remain. For example, clouds of dust and aerosols, as well as large amounts of methane, were detected in their atmosphere (for the coldest ones), just as in the atmosphere of Jupiter and Saturn. However, there were still two major differences. In the brown dwarf atmospheres, water is always in gaseous state, while it condenses into water ice in giant planets; and ammonia has never been detected in the brown dwarf near-infrared spectra, while it is a major component of Jupiter's atmosphere. CFBDS0059, the newly-discovered brown dwarf, looks much more like a giant planet than the known classes of brown dwarfs, both because of its low temperature and because of the presence of ammonia.
"To date, two classes of brown dwarfs have been known: the L dwarfs (temperature of 1200-2000°C), which have clouds of dust and aerosols in their high atmosphere; and the T dwarfs (temperature lower than 1200°C), which have a very different spectrum because of methane forming in their atmospheres. Because it contains ammonia and has a much lower temperature than do L and T dwarfs, CFBDS0059 might be the prototype of a new class of brown dwarfs to be called the Y dwarfs. This new class would then become the missing link in the sequence from the hottest stars to giant planets of less than -100°C, by filling the gap now left in the midrange."
A & A Press Release, 10th April 2008, with thanks to David and Bruce
Meteorite from the Past
It seems remarkable, but this little piece of rock might be sufficient for planetary scientists to piece together a picture of what a long-gone planet in the solar system may have once looked like. The meteorite (which is one of a pair) was discovered in Antarctica, where many impacted meteorites can be found sitting on the glistening white surface of that frozen continent. But it not recognisable as a fragment of any of the known planets, or from our Moon. It is an unknown.
The likelihood is that it is one of many fragments of a disintegrated dwarf planet from the early solar system. The solar system may be full of such fragments. Each retains the memory of a world which once existed, but is no longer. Most of these worlds suffered great impacts, and many were undoubtedly lost from the Sun's great gravitational grip.
What interests me about this is whether this fragment might have once had a closer connection with Earth. It is clearly neither Terrestrial, nor Lunar. But it may have been part of the object which collided with the Earth billions of years ago; the object which caused the ejection of a massive quantity of terrestrial material into orbit, which eventually coalesced to become the Moon. That impactor is presumed to have been Mars-sized. Is it possible that this meteoritic fragment was once part of that world?
Scientists have concluded already that this fragment was once part of a dwarf planet, and also that water was present on that world in sizeable quantities. At the moment, there seems little else to go on, but in time this fragment may hold a clue to the mighty collisions that once shaped the solar system, and, indeed, our own world.
David Shiga "Meteorites may be remnants of destroyed dwarf planet" 13th March 2008, with thanks to Shad Bolling
Pioneer Anomaly Deepens
Readers of my book will be acquainted with the mysterious physical effect experienced by several spacecraft in the solar system. The effect has been most noticeable in the case of two Pioneer probes which have been heading away from the Sun at great speed. Quick, yes, but apparently not quick enough. Some effect unknown to the current laws of physics appears to be slowing the craft from their calculated trajectories.
Scientists have been looking at this problem for quite a number of years now, and it is a well-known mystery in the astrophysics community. No one has done more work on this than the now retired scientist John Anderson, ex-JPL. John has always had an interest in the question of Planet X, although it appears that he doesn't think that will provide the solution in this case. He has now announced that careful measurements of several other spacecraft moving around in the solar system have provided more evidence of this effect (1). Do the books on gravitational physics need to be revised?
I'm not going to say here that the proposed Dark Star can definitively offer an answer to this problem. But, I do think that it might be a factor, and that if it is, then the problem may be resolvable without the need to change the laws of physics.
Let's say that the Dark Star is about 10 Jupiter masses. In that case, it has about 1% of the mass of the Sun. The rest of the planets are of negligible mass in comparison, including Jupiter. When you count in the Dark Star, then the total mass of the solar system is 1% greater than we currently account for. Not only that, but the total angular momentum of the solar system is significantly higher than what we currently allow for, as well as the total orbital energies of the planets. All of which means that the solar system's various fields, whether energetic, gravitational, or even magnetic, are all slightly askew from what is currently imagined. Surely, somewhere in the maths, that has to count?
If space-probes are moving differently to expected by a small margin, then it seems plausible to me that the additional mass, energy and momentum of the complete solar system, when factoring in a Dark Star at its periphery, may be the reason. The problem then is that the complexities of the system as a whole are such that unravelling such an interaction may prove more difficult than re-writing the laws of physics.
(1) Charles Q. Choi "NASA Baffled by Unexplained Force Acting on Space Probes" 29th February 2008, with thanks to Lee Covino
Japanese Progress on Planet X
Talk of the existence of Planet X often receives short shrift in the West. I'm not sure why that is, because the vast majority of the total solar system (Including the comet clouds) is dark and uncharted. That isn't to say that we should mark territory beyond Neptune as 'Here be Dragons', but we should at least respect the fact that we really don't have a clue what's out there.
The Japanese, who are famously known for the inventive thinking, appear to be less discouraged. University researchers have declared an interest in finding Planet X, and they are quite certain that this Holy Grail of outer solar system research exists. Why? Because their theoretical models indicate that there is indeed a large piece of missing celestial jigsaw. This is from physorg.com:
"Researchers at Kobe University in western Japan said calculations using computer simulations led them to conclude it was only a matter of time before the mysterious "Planet X" was found. Because of the very cold temperature, its surface would be covered with ice, icy ammonia and methane," Kobe University professor Tadashi Mukai, the lead researcher, told AFP. The study by Mukai and researcher Patryk Lykawka will be published in the April issue of the US-based Astronomical Journal. The researchers set up a theoretical model looking at how the remote area of the solar system would have evolved over the past four billion years.
"In coming up with an explanation for the celestial bodies, we thought it would be most natural to assume the existence of a yet unknown planet," Mukai said.
"Based on our hypothesis, we calculated how debris moved over the past four billion years. The result matched the actual movement of the celestial bodies we can observe now," he said. He was hopeful about research by Kobe University, the University of Hawaii and Taiwan's National Central University. "We are expecting that the ongoing joint celestial observation project will eventually discover Planet X," Mukai said." (1)
I'm not sure whether it's too clever to provide the kind of accurate predictions for the orbital path of this Planet X body that the Japanese reseachers imply, however. This was from japantoday.com:
"According to the research conducted by Mukai and Patryk Lykawka, the planet is about 30-70 percent of Earth's mass and located more than 12 billion kilometers from Earth. It apparently tilts about 20-40 degrees to the plane of orbit and circles the sun in an elliptical orbit every thousand years." (2)
Fans of Zecharia Sitchin will note the tilt figure, which compares favourably with his own prediction of 30 degrees. But the size, orbital period and distance are variables which could easily be adjusted dramatically, and still fit the data. For instance, if you increase the mass of the planet, then it could achieve the same effect on the outer solar system by simply being located at a greater distance. There would be a scale of possibilities, with size of the planet X body growing proportionally with its distance from the Sun, and therefore also growing with its orbital period. So, I wouldn't read too much into these speculative figures. All we can say is that as the projected body becomes more distant, it must become bigger. The hunt is on!
(1) "Japanese scientists eye new planet" 28 Feb 2008, with thanks to Wayne
(2) "Another planet may be beyond Neptune: researchers" 28 Feb 2008, with thanks to Lee Covino
Stardust Mission Surprise Results
The results of the Stardust Mission have been released at last. The component molecules of the Wild-2 comet have surprised scientists, who expected this object to have been a leftover from the beginning of the solar system. Instead, its nature is more akin to the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. This indicates to me that some of the cosmic matter beyond the planets (i.e. the comets) arrived there as a result of catastrophic events in the early solar system. That it is, in actual fact, the debris leftover from great collisions in the inner solar system.
This is more in keeping with the theories of Zecharia Sitchin than the expected outcome of mainstream theories of the origin of the solar system. This result seems to indicate that cometary bodies in the outer solar system might have originated near the asteroid belt. This is the situation that Sitchin's 'Celestial Battle' between Tiamat and Marduk was said to create; the collision between a rogue planet moving in an elliptical orbit, with a large planet once located between Mars and Jupiter, created the asteroid belt, the Earth and comets. Remarkably, this strange cosmic theory, which is based upon the readings of ancient mythology, may once again have a ring of truth in science.
Here's the result summary, which, incidentally, has been a long time in coming:
"Tiny samples of a glowing comet, flown back to
Earth by a pioneering spacecraft named Stardust, hold remarkably little dust
from any ancient far-off stars, but a lot of the stuff that makes up nearby
rocky asteroids, Livermore scientists have found to their surprise.
David Perlman "RESULTS OF THE STARDUST MISSION: Bits of comet surprise scientists" 25 January 2008, article on longer available online
Did our Solar System once have another planet?
The Moon could hold the key to the destruction rampant in the solar system 3.9 billion years ago. It could help to decide the fate of two distinct, but related, rogue theories in planetary science to do with the early solar system.
Careful analysis of the crater impact areas could be used to discover whether the rocky fragments which crashed through the inner solar system came from the asteroid belt (perturbed by a now missing 5th planet), as proposed by some astronomers recently. It seems as though the impact crater sizes might be more in keeping with objects from the asteroid belt, than from further afield (1).
As scientists and engineers begin preparations to send a manned expedition to the lunar surface, some are wondering what the purpose of such a trip might be. One answer is to look more closely at the craters on the Moon, in an attempt to establish their age. By doing to, scientists might also discover proof for the Nemesis theory. In other words, if it turns out that the bombardment of the Moon's surface by celestial objects occurs periodically, rather than randomly, then scientists need to establish the source of these regular bombardments:
"There's evidence in the fossil record that such impacts occur periodically, "once every 26 million years," saysPaul Spudis [a senior planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory]. "Not everyone agrees, but I think it is pretty convincing."
Why would this happen? "Some theories are wild!" There might be a dark, distant companion of the sun that periodically perturbs comets in the Oort Cloud, and the comets rain down on Earth." (2)
Readers of this website will find this a rather familiar theme. Both ideas send a distinct nod towards a major missing piece of the solar system puzzle. It seems as though senior scientists have not yet ruled out the binary theory for our solar system, or, indeed, a missing planet closer to the Sun. The real mystery of the solar system continues unabated.
1)"Did our Solar System once have another planet?" With thanks to Al Cornette
2)NASA "The Moon is a Harsh Witness" 26th January 2007
Sun's Distant Twin in Draco
This star is a long-lost relative of Sol, at least according to its 'genetic' stellar markers. Spectroscopic analysis of the starlight from HIP 56948 shows a remarkable resemblance to our Sun. So, does this mean it was born alongside our Sun in a stellar nursery? Perhaps.
If so, then this would be a very interesting discovery indeed, because it would shed light on the Sun's origins. Nowadays, it is some 200 light-years distant, rather like a long-lost half-brother who emigrated to Australia. But it is a useful star to study, because it might tell us a lot about our own Sun; often we are just too close to study our own star due to its relative brightness.
Dave Mosher "Sun's Wayward Twin Discovered" 9 November 2007, with thanks to Peter Gersten
Multiplanet systems like our own may not be so unusual
Does this really need saying at all? Astronomers have
spent decades studying protoplanetary disks and are well acquainted with the
theoretical model of complex planetary system formation. But, hey, it's nice to
finally have the proof that our system is not unique in its planetary compexity.
Now that a record fifth planet has been discovered around 55 Cancri by a team
that includes legendary planet-hunter Dr Geoffrey Marcy, we can all rest a
little easier in our beds at night. Because our system may turn out to be
as typical as the rest, with new Earths in abundance, and life prevalent across
the galaxy. It's just a matter of time before we know this to be
Reference:With thanks to Dave and Mart, and Monika, Scientific American article on longer available online
Sunless but liveable world may be detectable
It's hypothetical, but fascinating as a possibility nonetheless. Some astronomers believe that planets floating in interstellar space may be able to generate enough internal heat to sustain liquid water, and thus potentially harbour life in the form of extremeophiles.
As our ability to detect planets improves, so may the possibility of finding just such a world. If so, it would open up the debate about the likely character of the planet Nibiru considerably. Sitchinites could feasibly argue that Sitchin's idea for a life-sustaining Planet X is perfectly possible. That would mean that the need for a Dark Star to warm such a world would diminish. However, this work is highly speculative and unproven at the moment. Here's the link:
With thanks to David Pearson, article on longer available online
All articles written by Andy Lloyd, 2008, author of
Dark Star Blog 2006-7
Dark Star Blog 2009
Dark Star Blog 2010
Dark Star Blog 2012
Dark Star Blog 2013