The two scientists, Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo, who first recognised the clustering of objects thought to reveal the presence of ‘Planet Nine’ (1), have announced the discovery of three new objects. All three are highly distant objects (2). Two of them are extended scattered disk objects beyond the traditional Kuiper Belt, and fit reasonably well into the afore-mentioned cluster. The third, perhaps even more amazingly, is an object whose elongated orbit reaches way out into the distant Oort Cloud of comets, but which also never comes closer than the planet Neptune. So, this is the first outer Oort cloud object with a perihelion beyond Neptune, designated 2014 FE72.
Here’s how the announcement of these three new objects has been described in a press release from the Carnegie Institution for Science (3), where Scott Sheppard works:
One of the pair of Caltech scientists who announced in January that there was a very high probability that a ‘super-Earth’, dubbed ‘Planet Nine’, exists beyond Neptune (1,2), has noted that a newly discovered eccentric Kuiper Belt Object cuts down the possibility that they were wrong still further.
“The object [uo3L91] shares some of the same behavior as the other six Kuiper Belt bodies, suggesting it has also been pushed by a large planet that is between 200 and 1,200 times the distance from the Sun to Earth. The object was discovered by the Canada France Hawaii Telescope, which is conducting the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS); information about its movements were presented recently by astronomer Michele Bannister at the SETI Institute.” (3)
I received some correspondence recently from an anonymous writer who was discussing the length of Nibiru’s orbit with respect to the Babylonian Sar (1). In his/her email, Caesar’s comet came up – an event which is said to have taken place in 44 BCE, shortly after the assassination of the Roman dictator, Julius Caesar. The appearance of this star, thought to be a very bright, daytime comet (indeed, possibly the brightest comet in all recorded history), was recorded by the Romans and the Chinese – although there are actually very few descriptions of such a remarkable comet at the time it took place, which has led some scholars to doubt that this was really an historical event (2). it is said to have appeared for about 7 days, and may have had a magnitude as high as -4, similar to Venus at its brightest. This comet, if such it was, is not a short-period comet, and may have either disintegrated during its perihelion passage, or returned back to the outer solar system (at which point it may be about 800 AU away by now.
A couple of times a month, I receive emails containing photos, or with links to YouTube videos, purporting to show the presence of Planet X near to the Sun. Usually, although not always, these images are taken by a camera looking directly at the Sun at sunset or sunrise. When I thank the sender, but provide a note of skepticism, I generally find that my comment (which has been sought by the correspondent in the first place) does not tend to go down too well. In most cases, I think the correspondents are simply seeking publicity for their images/videos and don’t really care too much for what I have to say about them. The forum on this website will offer an opportunity for readers to post and comment on these images and videos which I’ll set up later today. In the meantime, I wanted to re-post a blog piece I wrote in December which clarifies my position on this, and why I think that the widespread thinking about these images and videos is fundamentally flawed. Many will disagree, of course:
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.