Could Subaru Spot Nibiru?
Almost nine months after the release of their paper about the likely existence of Planet Nine (1), Drs Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin have secured a sizeable chunk of valuable time on the Subaru telescope, based in Hawaii. If they’re right about where it is, and luck is on their side, then they may detect the elusive planet within weeks. Brown and Batygin think they’ve narrowed it down to roughly 2,000 square degrees of sky near Orion, which will take approximately 20 nights of telescope time to cover with the powerful 8.2-meter optical-infrared Subaru telescope at the summit of Maunakea, Hawaii, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (2). Mike Brown is quite gung-ho about it, as can be gleaned from these extracts from a recent interview with the L.A. Times:
“”We are on the telescope at the end of September for six nights. We need about 20 nights on the telescope to survey the region where we think we need to look. It’s pretty close to the constellation Orion…We’re waiting for another couple of weeks before it’s up high enough in the sky that we can start observing it and then we’re going to start systematically sweeping that area until we find it.
“”It makes me think of the solar system differently than I did before. There’s the inner solar system, and now we are some of the only people in the world who consider everything from Neptune interior to be the inner solar system, which seems a little crazy.”” (3)
Let’s hope they’re on the money. They have quite a lot to say about some of the correspondence that comes their way from members of what might loosely be termed ‘the Planet X community’.
Their major objection to any allusions to the fabled planet Nibiru stem from Planet Nine’s projected orbit lying well beyond Neptune’s. Zecharia Sitchin, by contrast, maintained that Nibiru must return periodically to the site of the ‘Celestial Battle’, at the asteroid Belt during perihelion (4). For some years, my own research has led me to realise that a sizeable Planet X body must lie well beyond the outer planets of the solar system. Indeed, a diagram I put into my 2005 book shows the ‘Dark Star’ as moving around the Kuiper Belt (itself a sort of asteroid belt located beyond Neptune) at perihelion (5), rather than moving in to the inner solar system (even by Dr Brown’s definition). The same diagram shows the Dark Star moving out to the inner Oort Cloud at aphelion.
Of course, I am not Zecharia Sitchin, and my attempts to revise some of his ideas in the face of physics and planetary science have not always been met with glee by his advocates. So, Dr Brown is right to say that his version of Planet X does not correlate with Nibiru – at least in terms of its perihelion distance (there are other markers which are uncannily similar (6), which he tends to avoid mentioning in his self-evident desire to debunk Nibiru).
But Planet Nine does correlate very well with the orbital attributes that I claimed for the ‘Dark Star’. Where my own version of this sizeable Planet X object differs from the proposed Planet Nine is mass; Planet Nine is Neptune-sized, while I envisioned a sub-brown dwarf object of several Jupiter masses. Perhaps this object’s position is more distant than Brown and Batygin think, with a greater mass than the 10+ Earth masses they attribute to it (which, incidentally, is also a figure originally proposed by Sitchin). If my sub-brown dwarf idea is to work, then there has to be a good reason why such a sizeable object has evaded detection, and I’ve addressed these recently in various blogs and a scientific paper (7) (which was, predictably, rejected by the astrophysics archive ArXiv after six months of frenetic non-deliberation).
It seems to me that we all hold pieces of this puzzle. Sitchin may have got aspects of this wrong, with his original thesis that Nibiru returns to the ‘hammered bracelet’, or asteroid belt. But, then, that was before we realised that the solar system has two asteroid belts – the second being the Kuiper Belt. Perhaps he simply got the wrong asteroid belt…
I seem to have got the orbit closer to the mark, but perhaps overshot with the mass. Maybe it is still possible to have a habitable moon orbiting a very sizeable Planet Nine, but my general thesis calls for a larger gas giant. Perhaps that allusion to a sub-brown dwarf was unnecessary, as liquid water seems to be able to exist in places previously unconsidered, like Mars and Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
Anyway, coming back to the hunt for Planet Nine, I note that Dr Mike Brown is scheduled to provide a press briefing at the 48th annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Pasadena next month. Dr Brown’s briefing, which may take one of a number of formats – dependent, I suppose, on how big the news from Subaru turns out to be – is scheduled for Wednesday 19th October (8). Stay tuned!
Written by Andy Lloyd, 19th September 2016
1) K. Batygin & M. Brown “Evidence for a Distant Giant Planet in the Solar System” 20th January 2016, The Astronomical Journal, Volume 151, Number 2, http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/0004-6256/151/2/22
2) Christopher Crockett “New clues in search for Planet Nine” 5th July 2016 https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new-clues-search-planet-nine
3) Patt Morrison “Patt Morrison asks: Caltech astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin on finding a replacement for Pluto” 14th September 2014 http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-ol-patt-morrison-mike-brown-planet-nine-20160914-snap-story.html with thanks to Lee
4) Zecharia Sitchin “The Twelfth Planet” Avon 1976
5) Andy Lloyd “Dark Star: The Planet X Evidence” p168 Timeless Voyager Press 2005
6) Andy Lloyd “Planet Nine Constellations Predicted by Sitchin, and IRAS” 26th January 2016 http://www.andylloyd.org/darkstarblog34.htm
7) Andy Lloyd “The Cumulative Effect of Intermittent Interstellar Medium Inundation Upon Objects In The Outer Solar System” 02/2016, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.5112.5526,https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293488683_The_Cumulative_Effect_of_Intermittent_Interstellar_Medium_Inundation_Upon_Objects_In_The_Outer_Solar_System
8) American Astronomical Society “2nd Media Advisory, 48th DPS / 11th EPSC, Pasadena, CA, 16-21 Oct. 2016” 14th September 2016 https://aas.org/meetings/dps48/2nd-media-advisory#briefings