Every few years, it seems Planet X (also known as “Nibiru”) claims rear their head. This time, Planet X fans are disappointed after NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer returned negative results.
NASA Probe Shoots Down ‘Planet X’ Claims (NBC News):
A NASA spacecraft has pounded another nail into the coffin of the hypothetical solar system body called “Planet X” or “Nemesis.”
Some astronomers have proposed the existence of an undiscovered planet or other large body in the outer reaches of the solar system, based on their analysis of changes in the orbits of far-out comets. But after scanning the entire sky, the space agency’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, known as WISE, found no signs of such objects.
But when NBC says “some astronomers,” they are “condens[ing] a report from Space.com,” which stated:
At the turn of the 20th century, astronomers such as Percival Lowell continued to search for an even more-distant gas planet that could be responsible for disrupting the orbits of Uranus and Neptune.
Lowell dubbed the putative body Planet X; his persistence led to the 1930 discovery of Pluto. By 1978, scientists had concluded that Pluto was too small to affect the larger bodies, and began searching for a large missing planet.
So to clarify, we’re not talking about 21st century astronomers, at least regarding the gas planet Lowell hypothesized. Planet X is an astronomy myth (BadAstronomy.com) that just refuses to die. Anybody remember when Planet X (itself either a planet or a failed brown dwarf star) was going to kill us in 2003? And again in 2012?
Nemesis, on the other hand, is not a planet at all (real or imagined); it is a hypothetical star proposed to be orbiting the Sun beyond the Oort cloud. Nemesis was proposed in 1984 based on the work of a pair of paleontologists who sought to explain the periodicity of extinctions over the last 250 million years.
NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) found evidence of neither object, but the important takeaway here is that the survey found thousands of new stars. Let’s focus on what was discovered, rather than being disappointed with what wasn’t. Luhman’s results are published in The Astrophysical Journal (paywalled).
- Sorry, Conspiracy Theorists: Planet X Doesn’t Mark the Spot (Bad Astronomy)
- WISE survey finds thousands of new stars, but no ‘Planet X’ (Phys.org)
- ‘Planet X,’ The Mysterious Planet Beyond Pluto, Is Nowhere To Be Found In NASA’s WISE Survey (International Business Times)