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2012: Planet X is not Nibiru

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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Hello! My name is Ian O'Neill and I've been writing for the Universe Today since December 2007. I am a solar physics doctor, but my space interests are wide-ranging. Since becoming a science writer I have been drawn to the more extreme astrophysics concepts (like black hole dynamics), high energy physics (getting excited about the LHC!) and general space colonization efforts. I am also heavily involved with the Mars Homestead project (run by the Mars Foundation), an international organization to advance our settlement concepts on Mars. I also run my own space physics blog: Astroengine.com, be sure to check it out!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bob February 28, 2009, 11:48 AM

    First off i dont see how this has anything to do with “god” or the bible, but i guess it was expected to find comments like these. Logically, the idea of Nibiru seems farfetched, but, logically, i see no evidence disproving it either, and therefore even if its a stretch i wouldnt completely wipe it out just because it would make the mind happy. Im not going to worry about it until there is evidence to disprove or prove this.

  • army boi March 2, 2009, 2:31 PM

    Ok…even if nothing happens, and god help us all if it really does, but even if it doesn’t, can you really sit there and tell me that people as a whole are not going to freak out?? I dont know…right around the 20th of Dec. 2012?? So, no mass chaos, or religous pscyho nut jobs aren’t going to come out of the wood works?? Now if you don’t believe what the Sumarian tablets say, then maybe you should read them one more time just to make sure….hmmmm…makes me wonder what is really going to happen a year or so before Dec 21, 2012….

  • bully boy March 4, 2009, 4:37 PM

    bull shit

  • stufigudios March 6, 2009, 2:20 AM

    its not bullshit, i am from Nibiru and have been here for the last 200 years setting everything up so that you will bow down and worship us when we return in full force. oh yes, you’ll see. mmmmmmurah ha ha ha. fools.

  • vanses March 10, 2009, 1:47 AM

    abeeee lodu saale ,,,gaandu ki aulaad …iss duniya mein kuch bhi ho sakta hai jaise mein teri gaand mar kar bhag jau to tujhe pata ni chalega samjha loduuu saale

  • moolaa March 12, 2009, 7:06 AM

    this is all bs…? really? that would explain y i can live without breathing and i feed off of human blood…

  • himmpissed March 13, 2009, 9:51 PM

    Projects like Nibiru, Giants, Fallen Angels …. are all government agenda tries to wipe off the basis of the religion in people, make them scared and demand more security and rescue so that they can propose their nwo agenda.

  • automotive floor jack March 14, 2009, 5:58 AM

    This is the first time I commented here and I should say you provide us genuine, and quality information for bloggers! Great job.
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  • Faz March 14, 2009, 4:29 AM

    I agree with “himmpissed”

    Believe in Almighty God, forget about any nonce Nibiru, you people are insecure because of your lack of faith in Almighty God.

  • eddy March 17, 2009, 9:59 AM

    all ur comments are absolutely logical dude!
    these doomsday idiots twist science and make some hocus focus .
    really if any change comes in 2012 then it should be the eradication of these doomsday prophets!!

  • J March 19, 2009, 12:39 AM

    I love how when some people can’t wrap their minds around something, they bring religion into it. Scientists are actually DOING something to study the outer realms of our planet, not specifically to this article. What do religious people do? Read the bible, go to church, then believe everything they take in from that and further separate themselves from reality, basing everything on one supreme being. How convenient.

  • Darren March 19, 2009, 1:45 PM

    if planet X (Niboo or Nibiru ) could been seen you would need to be on the south poll looking towards the sun to see it at all .but at this time it has not been seen as of yet because its cumming from the other side of are gas giant the sun , if its true more then likely you wont see it until summer or fall of 2010 as it slowly moves in to are planetary system ,at this point the giant planet with its own system of moons are going to pull on other body’s (planets and there moons in a solar system ) creating tidal waves ,higher then normal water levels in are oceans and earth tremors all over the globe as the earth will be in its gravity well, all hell could break loose ,some think that this has happen before and well keep happening every 26,000 years as in 2012 ,mite I add this year(2012) are solar system will be in the galactic center of are universe just the same as the the Mayans had wrote on then own calender of thousands of years before .
    some think its the end ,,but I think it more like a new beginning for humanity its happen before and it will happen again and again ,are magnetic polls on the planet may shift or revers its field polarity and millions could parish from this but if we survive this and keep are technology run will be ok ,but another thing is going to happen 2012 the sun it self could be changing the sun is on a 11 year cycle and it shows through sun spots the sun it self changes, reversing it own magnetic flow from + to – to -to+ every 11 years this in concatenation with Plant X could or may spell are doom.

  • james March 24, 2009, 7:04 AM

    if we all die we all die lol personaly l think this is true in a way and in a nother way l think this is all bullshit because the secend coming of jeuses like come on get a fucking life and who ever you are stufigudios BRING IT ON try to take over this world bitch we are waiting

  • wayne mark March 25, 2009, 1:20 AM

    is it really true that the planet nibiru will come pass by the earth and the impact of it is in the orbit of the earth..and the earth will stop on rotating for three days…i’m not good in my english…

  • wayne mark March 25, 2009, 1:21 AM

    is that true that year 2012 planet nibiru will appeared and will give a big disaster to earth.?

  • wayne mark March 25, 2009, 1:21 AM

    what will happen to us? pls reply this is my yahoo….waynemarkmallari@ymail.com

  • Open Minded March 24, 2009, 11:52 PM

    Just have a bit of a think about things for a moment, ‘History repeats its’ self’ and we seem to take that for granted, until it is too late!
    When we look back through the ages, ‘events’ have happened, some were recorded, some were passed down through story or myth and most recent in the ‘modern era’ (200 years) have been ‘found’ though scientific research in search of answers’!
    By using all of the above methods though the ages, that yes there were ‘dinosaurs’, an ‘ice age’ and so on. But for these to occur meant that ‘something’ BIG had to have happened and seems to ‘HAPPEN’ every 3,600 years!
    So let’s look at that then, way back in the beginning… Dinosaurs roamed the earth after a ‘similar’ event prior, and evolving through ‘their’ 3,600 year cycle, then yet again the cycle of time and of planet X/Nibiru/dwarf planet/suns’ sister… what ever one calls it travels through its solar cycle and events happen all over again. Creating havoc, destruction, natural disasters and so on, killing ‘most’ of the life on earth during that period… only the ‘strong’ will survive!
    Then for the next 3,600 years cycle as the ‘mysterious’ multi-named planet goes back through its orbital path, the ‘strong’ who have survived, evolve from their surroundings, utilize new adaptations in their way of life… man now included in this era/period. Story telling of events helps man to adapt better and learns new ‘skills’ from means of survival with being subjected to the ‘new’ elements around him… flood, drought, famine and so on. This in turn from having to think differently allows him to survive for the next 3,600 years and develop his skills in farming, building etc, etc… right up till the point of the next 3,600 year destructive cycle!
    So now after a few maybe more 3,600 year cycles… we come to the Sumerian period, then again 3,600 years later the Egyptian period… to now ‘our’ period of the cycle, today!
    Mans advancement through the ages has been only a ‘survival’ of the strongest and fittest, from knowledge and handed down information to aid in man-kinds further and future development and from learning how to ‘adapt’ to his ‘changing’ and sometimes destructive surroundings… “do or die”?
    Now think about the ‘next 3,600 year cycle’! How will man-kind survive it this time? Well maybe some of those silly conspiracy story’s going around might not be so silly after all?
    Such as we have all heard about the underground Military bases etc etc… just think about that for a minute… You have probablly all seen Hollywood movies such as ‘Deep Impact’ and ones similar? Maybe there is a subliminal message there for all of us, but just take it for granted? I choose fact over fiction and theory for sources to answers, we all have questions… right!
    So taking into account that the US gov, NASA and Big-Wigs know more than we do… who will survive from the worlds population with the aid of those people in probable underground bunkers?… you watched it and most probably took it for granted from those subliminal messages in those Hollywood movies…. but think about, ‘it won’t be you… and it won’t be me… only a selected minority who are of ‘standard’ and of whats required for the next generation will be allowed in… this is only speculation mind you, but noted non the less!
    Why only a few? You try feeding, giving medical attention, governing a ‘mass’ population of millions… with what? (The world has just been put through a massive destructive force of natural events) . So how do the ‘chosen few’ (100’s maybe a few thousand at least?) in the bunkers survive? Stock pile of course and gathered/stored knowledge as the previous eras may have done, but don’t forget we are a ‘master race’ now, so we use fuels and technologies.
    Thinks about this, why does the US want to control all the Fuel reserves in Iraq and its neighbours? With out fuel, technology can not progress or develop further, machines stored can not work, vehicles for the future 3,600 year cycle for those chosen can not work heating and cooling equipment can not work, water filtration equipment can not work, medical equipment can not work and construction equipment for the ‘next’ generation can not work… that is why they will and have stock piles and seek ALL control of fossil fuels and oil. Am I talking ‘BS’? Some how I don’t think so… there is more to it all than meets the eye and what ‘we’ know, it just takes common sense and an ‘open mind’!
    Just think about the next generation, it will progress much quicker with the knowledge we now have as human beings/homo sapiens than any other period though history. Our brains and knowledge won’t allow us to begin again using sticks and stones for building, we have advanced way too far for that… the next generation will have new ideas and a better understanding of what is and has been happening and by advancement… will probably ‘be’ flying around in ‘hover’ cars, and futuristic machines etc etc…. THERE IS NO WAY THAT SUCH THINGS CAN BE OBTAINED IN “OUR” LIFE TIME… think about it, how and where and with what for millions of earths population to get with the times… won’t happen… but for ‘those selected few’ it will because it is more obtainable and efficient on the big scheme of things to advance for a minority rather than a majority!
    Then there will be another 3,600 year cycle… and again technology will be different and thinking will be different! But for now, what do we do, what can we do… simply, use your mind and be open mined and just think about the future! BS maybe, but again… History repeats its self… sooner than we really think!
    Also… have a think about Mars, why is this planet that is so probable to have life (fact of water and previous atmosphere) and was similar to earth dead? What collided Mars to give it a 10,000 ‘km crater impact that is almost 40% of its size?
    Something BIG happened, something upset the ‘evolution’ of life on Mars to leave it in a dead state! Really when you look at it, Mars isn’t all that far away in the big space of the universe from us and is within range of this 3,600 year cycle of Nibiru/ mysterious planet what ever it is orbital cycle… maybe during a cycle it was in it’s path? Maybe it could happen here too? Just think about it… Mars was alive once, the evidence of flowing water and lake/ocean contour lines proves this… so why is it dead? Just think about it!
    Could the ‘asteroid’ that hit the earth during the prehistoric era have been a piece from Mars’s impact during a 3,600 year previous cycle?
    Really just have a real think about things and conduct your own research and gather your thoughts… Disaster will happen again, when? Maybe soon, maybe a little later? So if this is all BS, then so has been the rest of history and man-kinds advancement… somehow I don’t think so!

  • Open Minded March 25, 2009, 12:31 AM

    I am not a doomsday prophet, or believe in Religion. Religion is a made up source to suppress the truth and control the masses… thus creating orderly conduct. Besides the first true God was the sun… it was worshiped because it gave life and aided the surroundings to grow crops and man-kind could see better when it was out shining (No batteries for torches back then :P) with out fear of the unknown. Just simple and plain ‘logic’… who’s not nervous when the lights go out if trapped in a ‘wild’ dangerous environment… if you answered “your not”… your the biggest BS’r out there… Simple logic, Light creates comfort and reasurance and awareness of ‘ones’ surrounding!
    And, this forthcoming event won’t be the end of man-kind… but a new era in how man-kind ‘adapts’ himself to the cycle of events!
    Simply it is a ‘natural’ and ‘occurring’ event that has happened many times before… and will again, and again…. and again!
    ‘Evolution’ is just a process of how ‘one’ adapts change to their environment, thinking and utilization of their surroundings once ‘change’ has happened.
    Oh and another thing, why in recent years have there been so many whales beaching them selves? Could change of the times and era be part of this too?
    Not the end… just the beginning of man-kinds next phase through life… brought on by ‘natural’ disaster!

  • Rabbie March 27, 2009, 3:47 PM

    Please do not worry about 2012. I had visions of the world ending, and god will not be here when it does. Someone he sends will be. I had nightmares of this as a child. I can even tell you the exact date I die, and it’s not 2012, it’s when I am 86 years old, 2 months and 12 days. Trust me, that’s way pass 2012. So don’t worry. I can explain who I am, but you won’t believe me. So pray to god and take care.

  • weekslider March 28, 2009, 12:00 PM

    Nibiru??…End of the world???…hahaaha!!..what a load of claptrap!!