A known sub-brown dwarf, which had previously been thought to float on its own through interstellar space, has now been allotted a parent star by sharp-eyed astronomers (1). The two are separated by about 7000 Astronomical Units. As a result, the sub-brown dwarf’s ultra-wide orbit around this parent star takes a colossal 900,000 years, making this the widest orbit yet discovered between planet and star. The sub-brown dwarf 2MASS J2126, which lies about 104 light years away, is thought to be about fifteen Jupiter masses, and is relatively young at somewhere between 10 and 45 million years old (2).
A week on from Caltech’s announcement, Dr Mike Brown and Dr Konstantin Batygin, the two astrophysicists proposing the existence of their ‘Planet Nine’, sketched out the range of orbits which their object might be moving through, including its all-important approximate perihelion and aphelion positions. Essentially, Brown and Batygin consider the perihelion position of the Planet Nine body to be in a broad region around the zodiacal constellations Scorpius/Sagittarius (R.A. = ~16hrs), whilst the aphelion positionof Planet Nine is likely in the equally broad Orion/Taurus area (R.A. = ~4hrs) (1,2).
Image credit: Caltech
We seem to be getting very close now to a discovery of a massive Planet X in the outer solar system. I heard this report on the evening BBC news, a slot which indicates the seriousness with which this subject is now being taken by the scientific community:
“American astronomers say they have strong evidence that there is a ninth planet in our Solar System orbiting far beyond even the dwarf world Pluto. The team, from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), has no direct observations to confirm its presence just yet. Rather, the scientists make the claim based on the way other far-flung objects are seen to move. But if correct, the putative planet would have 10 times the mass of Earth.
A new essay by Robert Schoch PhD, associate professor of Natural Sciences at the College of General Studies in Boston, discusses the possible existence of a companion ‘Second Sun’.
Dr Schoch is, of course, the academic who first questioned the weathering patterns on Sphinx; realising that they must have been created by rainfall in an earlier, wetter period from Egypt’s distant past. Here’s the abstract introducing his new article:
“Lately I have found myself thinking about the question of whether or not our Sun might have a companion. Is the Sun part of a binary or multiple star system? Astronomers have estimated that anywhere from 30% to over 80% of all stars may be members of binary or multiple star systems, so why not the Sun? The classic response is that if there was a “Second Sun,” then we should see it! But the situation may not be so simple.”