doomsday_kbo2

2012: Planet X is not Nibiru

19 Jun , 2008 by

The Solar System’s outer reaches still contain many minor planets yet to be discovered. Ever since the search for Planet X began in the early 20th Century, the possibility of a hypothetical planet orbiting the Sun beyond the Kuiper Belt has fuelled many Doomsday theories and speculation that Planet X is actually the Sun’s long lost binary sibling. But why the fear about the Planet X/Doomsday combination? Surely Planet X is just an unknown, hypothetical object and nothing sinister?

Related 2012 articles:

As I’ve previously discussed in “2012: No Planet X“, doomsayers have linked the modern day search for Planet X, the ancient Mayan 2012 Prophecy and the Sumerian mythical planet Nibiru, culminating in bad news for December 21st 2012. However, the astronomical evidence for these links is seriously flawed.

Yesterday (Wednesday, June 18th), Japanese researchers announced news that their theoretical search for a large mass in the outer Solar System has produced results. From their calculations, there might just be a planet, possibly a bit bigger than a Plutoid but certainly smaller than Earth orbiting beyond 100 AU from the Sun. But before we get carried away, this is not Nibiru, this is not proof of the end of the world in 2012; it is a new and very exciting development in the search for minor planets beyond the Kuiper Belt…

In a new theoretical simulation, two researchers have deduced that the outermost reaches of the Solar System may contain an undiscovered planet. Patryk Lykawka and Tadashi Mukai of Kobe University have published a paper in the Astrophysical Journal detailing a minor planet that they believe may be interacting with the mysterious Kuiper Belt.

Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs)
Large bodies are known to exist beyond the orbit of Pluto, like Sedna (NASA)

The Kuiper Belt occupies a huge region of space, approximately 30-50 AU from the Sun. It contains a vast number of rocky and metallic objects, the largest known body being the dwarf planet (or “Plutoid”) Eris. It has been known for many years that the Kuiper Belt has a few strange characteristics that may signal the presence of another large planetary body orbiting the Sun beyond the Kuiper Belt. One such feature is the aptly named “Kuiper Cliff” that occurs at 50 AU. This is an abrupt end to the Kuiper Belt, very few Kuiper Belt objects (or KBOs) have been observed beyond this point. This cliff cannot be attributed to orbital resonances with massive planets such as Neptune, and there doesn’t appear to be any obvious observational error. Many astronomers believe that such a sharp cut-off in KBO population may be due to an as-yet to be discovered planet, possibly as large as Earth. This is an object Lykawka and Mukai believe they have calculated to exist.

Eight of the largest trans-Neptunian objects (Wikimedia Commons)

This research predicts a large object, 30-70% the mass of the Earth, orbiting at a distance of around 100-200 AU from the Sun. This object may also help explain why some KBOs and tran-Neptunian objects (TNOs) have some strange orbital characteristics (such as Sedna).

Ever since Pluto was discovered in 1930, astronomers have been looking for another more massive body that could explain the orbital perturbations observed in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. This search became known as the “search for Planet X”, which literally meant the “search for an as yet unidentified planet.” In the 1980’s these perturbations were put down to observational error. Therefore, the modern-day scientific search for Planet X is the search for a large KBO or a minor planet beyond. Although Planet X may not be larger than the mass of the Earth, researchers are still very excited about finding more KBOs, possibly the size of a Plutoid, possibly a little bigger, but not much bigger.

The interesting thing for me is the suggestion of the kinds of very interesting objects that may yet await discovery in the outer solar system. We are still scratching the edges of that region of the solar system, and I expect many surprises await us with the future deeper surveys.” – Mark Sykes, Director of the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona.

Planet X is not scary
The orbit of the hypothetical planet Nibiru (Sitchin.com)
So where does Nibiru come in? Back in 1976 a controversial book called “The Twelfth Planet” was written by Zecharia Sitchin. Sitchin had interpreted some ancient Sumerian cuneiform texts (the earliest known form of writing) as a literal translation of the origin of humankind. These 6000 year old texts apparently reveal that an alien race known as the Annunaki travelled to Earth on a planet called Nibiru. It’s a long and involved story, but in a nutshell, the Anunnaki genetically modified primates on Earth to create homo sapiens to be their slaves. (I just worked out where the storyline for Kurt Russell’s 1994 movie Stargate probably came from…)

When the Anunnaki left Earth, they let us rule the planet until they return. All this may seem a little fantastical, and perhaps a little too detailed when considering it is a literal translation from 6000 year old texts. Sitchin’s work has been disregarded by the scientific community as many of his methods of interpretation are considered imaginative at best. Nevertheless, many people have taken Sitchin’s work literally, and believe Nibiru (in its highly eccentric orbit around the Sun) will be returning, possibly as soon as 2012 to cause all sorts of terror and destruction here on Earth. It is important to note here that I am not calling into question any archaeological, spiritual or historic evidence for Nibiru, I am simply pointing out the link between the 2012 Doomsday Planet X theory is based on very dubious astronomical “discoveries”; if this is the case, how can Planet X be considered to be the embodiment of Nibiru?

Then there’s the IRAS “discovery of a brown dwarf in the outer Solar System” in 1984 and the “NASA announcement of a 4-8 Earth mass planet travelling toward Earth” in 1993. Doomsayers (often with a book to sell) cling on to these astronomical discoveries as proof that Nibiru is in fact the Planet X astronomers have been searching for over the last century. Not only that, by manipulating the facts about these scientific studies, they “prove” that Nibiru is travelling toward us, and by 2012, this massive body will pass through the inner Solar System, causing all sorts of gravitational damage. For more information on this topic, see “2012: No Planet X.”

In its purest form, Planet X is an unknown, theoretically possible planet orbiting peacefully beyond the Kuiper Belt. If yesterday’s announcement does lead to the observation of a planet or Plutoid, it will be an incredible discovery that will help to shed some light on the evolution and characteristics of the mysterious outer reaches of the Solar System.

But as I write, I can guarantee that doomsayers are adapting this new research to be used as support for their nonsensical theories that Planet X is in fact Nibiru, and it’s coming in our direction by 20 12 2012. Why do I get the feeling we’ll still be here in the year 2013?

Leading image credits: MIT (supernova simulation), NASA (Pluto and Charon). Effects and editing: myself.


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LLDIAZ
Guest
LLDIAZ
June 19, 2008 8:59 AM

what I dont get is how can we detect planets millions of light years away and yet we cant see one in our own neighborhood.

JakeL
Guest
June 19, 2008 8:13 AM

not to be nit-picky to an otherwise good article, but isn’t Eris the largest Dwarf-Planet/Plutoid/KBO?

Jorge
Guest
June 19, 2008 9:18 AM
Millions of light years away? Was any of the microlensing planets that distant? I doubt it, although it’s possible, I guess. By that method objects are detectable at very long distances. Anway, the reason we have a tougher time finding out some things in our neighborhood than their distant equivalents is the same reason why we know a whole lot better what’s the global structure of faraway galaxies than our own. It’s not as easy to study many things from the inside than it is from the outside. To know what’s the shape of a distant galaxy we just have to look at it, wereas we need to make all sorts of inferences and deep studies to understand… Read more »
c-lab
Member
c-lab
June 19, 2008 9:46 AM

This article is talking about objects 100 AU out – what’s the furthest out any of the detected extrasolar plantes are?

Mikel
Guest
June 19, 2008 10:07 AM

@jorge

True statement. As an example, just look at the various estimates for the number of stars in the Milky Way. I have seen 100B, 200B, and 400B (never 300B…wonder why?) as estimates for the Milky Way’s star count. It is definitely easier to work from outside than inside.

BTW, what’s the current concensus for the number of stars in the Milky Way?

– Mikel

Rolfruhig2
Member
June 19, 2008 1:29 PM

As my father says, and he is wise enough at 105 to have outlive many friends and relatives, “the End of Civilization and the World is the day you die.”

Challenge that scientifically, not with religious masturbations.

Jorge
Guest
June 19, 2008 10:32 AM

@Colin

According to the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia, a few non-stellar bodies have been found ar greater distances from their primary, but they are all very large objects, 14Mj and more. The record is at 670 AU.

Then, there’s a 4Mj planet at 46 AU and a 2.5Mj planet at 23 AU, but this one orbits a pulsar, not a star.

The bulk of extrasolar planetary detections, however (almost 300 now), goes upto 5 AU, more or less where Jupiter is. Our system has 3 more giant planets beyond that…

Silver Thread
Member
Silver Thread
June 19, 2008 11:28 AM

Astronomy is so Damn Cool.

tacitus
Member
June 19, 2008 1:33 PM
We can detect extrasolar planets because, so far, they are massive and close to their stars, and thus affect the stars in ways we can detect from a long, long way away. (i.e. by passing in front of a star changing it’s apparent brightness or tugging on the position of the star causing it’s motion to wobble). Conversely planets out in the Kuiper Belt are tiny, dark, and cold and slip through the darkness without affecting anything around them, so they are very much harder to detect even if they are thousands of times closer than exoplanets. Plus we know where to look for exoplanets — we study nearby stars and can focus on them. That’s just not… Read more »
tacitus
Member
June 19, 2008 1:37 PM

By the way, Sitchen is a fool, but not so foolish that he hasn’t been able to make a very nice living peddling his nonsense to his credulous readers.

Bill Illis
Guest
Bill Illis
June 19, 2008 2:01 PM

Every 6,000 years, planet Nibura comes back into the main solar system and basically destroys it.

By my math, planet Nibura has destroyed the solar system 75.7 million times so far.

Al Hall
Member
Al Hall
June 19, 2008 3:34 PM

Damn, that is a lot of destruction.. And our planet has managed to coalesce and thrive so quickly!
I recently returned from the Grand Canyon (again), and it makes me think.. That is some impressive work for just 6000 years. I suppose that if I stay there for just a few days I should see it happening before my eyes.

website design
Guest
June 19, 2008 4:55 PM

Those Heavens Gaters should have waited. It wasn’t Comet Hale-Bopp they should have offed themselves for, it was Planet X.

A7
Guest
A7
June 19, 2008 5:03 PM

:I

Astrofiend
Member
Astrofiend
June 19, 2008 5:07 PM

“# Ralph Rewes Says:
June 19th, 2008 at 1:29 pm

As my father says, and he is wise enough at 105 to have outlive many friends and relatives, “the End of Civilization and the World is the day you die.”

Challenge that scientifically, not with religious masturbations.”

You made the claim – so the burden of proof is on you. Prove it scientifically, without resorting to philosophical masturbations, and I might hear him out.

But yeah, it’s the end of the universe as far as the dead person is concerned alright.

leafguy
Member
June 19, 2008 5:29 PM
As much as Im not a religious nut in any way shape or form, truth is death may not be the end of the universe for a person. It may just be another chapter in a beings existence. And another theory I would like to suggest. Maybe Nibiru is the flying spagehtti monster. The entire idea of an object the size of earth rolling through the solar system is simply hysterical. There is no way an object that size would survive travelling through the asteroid belt, let alone not leave any evidence that is hasn’t disrupted anything around it. It fits right in with the theory of how the universe is only 11000 light years across and we… Read more »
Al Hall
Member
Al Hall
June 19, 2008 5:30 PM

I enjoy philosophically masturbating… What a climax!!! smile

Al Hall
Member
Al Hall
June 19, 2008 5:40 PM

Steve –
Although this Nibiru thing is of course farce, a dumb idea, any knowledgeable person knows it, it is my understanding that in the asteroid belt the appreciable objects are separated on an average of a million miles or so.. So…. And if you put all of that material together it would be smaller than our moon (from what I remember).. But artists’ renditions always look cool.

leafguy
Member
June 19, 2008 5:46 PM
I agree Al, But the fact Im trying to point out is, there would be a large amount of gravitational disturance on the rocks. Although the object in question may not directly hit an asteriod, it is certainly going to cause a large disturbance over an area larger than a million kilometers. If the earth can hold a body the size of the moon at 1/4 that distance, a rock that is only a few km in diamter is going to have either its orbit significantly changed, or be shot out it period. Same goes for any objects within a relatively close distance…say 5million miles. Im just saying the evidence would be there to easily detect an object… Read more »
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