View Full Version here: : Possible new planet discovered in our Solar System!

AG Hybrid
16-02-2011, 12:21 PM
Thanks to data collect from NASA's WISE telescope, a possible new planet 4 times the mass of Jupiter is possibly lurking out in the Oort Cloud located some 375x further out then Pluto. :eyepop:




Interesting stuff if it turns out to be real aye?

16-02-2011, 12:32 PM
Hi Adrian,

Thanks for the head's up and links to the articles.

A debate has already begun -

16-02-2011, 12:58 PM
The only way to find out is to analyse the data from WISE. Then, even if the signal is ambiguous, go looking for it. Most astronomers won't bother, but some might. This is where instruments of 16" and larger, with very IR sensitive cameras will come to the fore. This is precisely why unis should spend more money on building these instruments. Also, those amateurs that can afford equipment like this should pitch in as well.

16-02-2011, 02:08 PM
Either way I think this one will be the source of much debate in astronomy circles for a long time to come.

16-02-2011, 02:12 PM
Sounds a lot like the mysterious Planet X to me

what would the albedo of a planet 4 times the size of Jupiter be even if it was 1500 billion kilometers away

also would it be massive enough to be held in an orbit under the influence of the suns gravity as indicated in the article

also would it be massive enough as a gas giant to be turned into a star, now that would be interesting

16-02-2011, 02:17 PM
I have a Bet with a scientist friend, made about ten years ago, that within the next twenty years from that time that they would find the Sun has a companion out there somewhere:question:, I may be getting close to getting my money:D:D

16-02-2011, 02:51 PM
Hi All,

Well I'll go on record now as being extremely surprised if such a body exists (even out at 15,000 A.U) -- in fact I'd be confident enough to place a very large wager against it.

Such a body (assuming it to be a gas-giant at about 4x the mass of Jupiter), would still be about the size of Jupiter (just a lot denser). At optical wavelengths it would be extremely faint but still reasonably bright at infra-red, microwave and radio wavelengths from gravitational contraction and heat left over when it formed 4.6 gyrs ago.

Plus, assuming it to be a gas-giant like Jupiter and of similar composition, it would have a massive and powerful magnetosphere. It is almost impossible to conceive that a moving (orbiting) source at these wavelengths would not have been picked up in the dozens upon dozens of sky-surveys at these various wavelengths conducted over the last 40-odd years.

The evidence upon which its existence is speculated is very tenuous indeed. Maybe I'll be surprised -- who knows? But, I doubt it.


Les D

16-02-2011, 02:58 PM
It is interesting that the clues are altered trajectories of long term comets. I wonder how many bodies did not come back. You expect some long term comets would be close enough to such a massive object to be swallowed up.

So of the 100% comets discovered how many never came back at all. You would think roughly <1% or thereabouts would just disappear of the radar all together especially when the finding show as much as 20% altered trajectories.

I did a quick calculation non scientific determin the viewing size would be about 625 time smaller than current Jupiter so it maybe possible for high end amateur scopes to see about 1 pixel of movement. Any addition to this would be good.

16-02-2011, 10:00 PM

Isnt theory tied to an object being larger than Jupiter belonging to the class of "brown dwarfs"? I am sure that AS&T articles have been describing the exoplanet candidates being detected as Super Earths and Super Jupiters with the latter almost being able to be classified as being of the Brown Dwarf class and VERY hard to detect based on their visual dimness?

Maybe this is what is lurking out there beyond visible reach? Certainly with the mass of 4 x Jupiter, it would be getting close to being a Massive object with the characteristics of a brown dwarf. Something which theory predicts but practice is yet to pin down....

Thats where my $10 would be placed, if evidence or proof comes from the "speculation" included in that story.....



17-02-2011, 02:16 AM
Brown dwarfs are quite common and have been physically seen....they're not a theoretical object. 13 Jupiter masses is the cutoff point.

They've also seen quite a few planets up around the 4 x Jupiter mass as well.

Actually, where the problems lie is in telling the difference between extra-large planets (9-13 Jupiter masses) and the smallest BD's. Their internal structures are very similar. It's most likely a continuum between these large planets and the smallest brown dwarfs.

17-02-2011, 02:45 AM
Throwing a question out there?.. intrigued.; and questioning it's possibilities..

Does that mean if they look at the orbits of long period comets which they theorize are affected by this object; that they can theorize this object's orbit, over it's supposed 1.8 so million years of orbit of the Sun?

Get some supercomputer time?

17-02-2011, 10:25 AM
I think there is a limit until it is visually observed either by visual or radio. I could image that if it is a Jupiter sized planet it would have similar radio signal to our Jupiter.

I would be scanning the skies for that. Although it would have to be done in space as the Jupiter frequency is affected by atmosphere <38MHz

17-02-2011, 11:10 AM
If it has the internal physical makeup to generate a large, powerful magnetic field, then normally it would be easily detectable by its interaction with the solar wind, but out where it is, there is no solar wind. That ends back at the heliopause, which is only a couple of hundred AU wide at the most. Any interactions would be from it being immersed in the ISM and that would make for a very weak signal.

The only other ways it could generate a signal is via internal processes or via interactions with a suitable satellite (like Io with Jupiter).

17-02-2011, 11:23 AM
If it is within the Oort cloud, it will have multitude of satellites to play with.

17-02-2011, 11:36 AM
Wrong sort, and they're not as close together as you might think...the average distance between each object is many millions of kms. The only thing that putative planet will do over time is gravitationally scatter a few of the objects.

17-02-2011, 12:04 PM
I never heard or seen the scientific result on the radio signals from Jupiter so I should not assume to much at this stage. I always thought the heavy gravity which causes most of the storms would be the source of the radio signal, the moons would play an affect on the mixing of the storms possibly.

It seems common knowledge in education podcasts that anything high gravity planet would produce high energy storm activity.

I hope after my operation I will be purchasing a prof receiver with broadband spectrum analyser and waterfall meter. I will one day have a look (or hear and see) at the Sun and Jupiter as an initial project.

17-02-2011, 12:28 PM
There is a heap of literature on radio signals from Jupiter and their origins. Just about every introductory textbook on radioastronomy and/or astrophysics will mention them.

It has nothing to do with the gravity of the planet. It's due to the interaction of the magnetosphere of the planet with the solar winds and the upper atmosphere of the planet. It is also due to the interactions between Jupiter and some of its moons...namely Io and its emission of sodium (and other) ions.

Here's a relatively simple overview of Jupiter and its radio emissions...


17-02-2011, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the link, it is a shame that there are so many missing links on that site as well as missing links from links that still work. But well laid out explanation. That Plasma topic keeps popping up :smile:

It seems that Jupiter has taken a back seat in radio. It is still an option just in case there are moons, but realise now that it may be a waste of resources. (What is considered a waste I suppose)

There will be more information and when I am ready will locate them, but I am considering steering clear of a lot of information until I carry out test experiments with receiving techniques, antenna design and general university education documents. Should hopefully get that this semester.

17-02-2011, 12:56 PM
What course are you doing??

17-02-2011, 01:11 PM
Unless there is something wrong with my math, I calculate that this thing would be at Mag 13.9! H = -8.2 mag and from this m = 13.9 mag


D = 1329/pv^(1/2) * 10^(-0.2*H)

I used Jupiters Diameter and albedo (80000km and 0.52)

m = H + 2.5 Log10(d1^2*d2^2/(px*d3^4))

d1 = distance Sun to body (=15,000)
d2 = distance Observer to body (=15,000)
d3 = distance observer to Sun (=1)
px = 2/3 = the phase integral (ie same as the full moon)


17-02-2011, 01:20 PM
This semester first is Planetary Science and Astronomy 101. Very basic couple to start. The rest is Math, Physics and Chem for the first year.

17-02-2011, 01:25 PM
The diameter of Jupiter is 142950kms, not 80000kms :)

17-02-2011, 01:25 PM
Are you doing a BSc or a Grad Diploma??

17-02-2011, 01:25 PM
I think that will find the math for that during my course, but for planetary system wouldn't brightness vary on chemical makeup of the atmosphere. Looking at Jupiter and the NEB the composition of chemicals produce a low magnitude.

I know it is fairly easy to calculate the luminosity of the sun due to the HR diagram but planets would show a different result. I am only learning so give me a break!

17-02-2011, 01:26 PM
Sorry Grad Diploma leading to a BSc

Error: Enabling Course leading to BSc.

I called my year 8 Math Teacher "Fishface" and he downgraded me to a non Uni pathway a long time ago.

17-02-2011, 01:48 PM
Its the surface albedo (ie reflectivity) not luminance. If it is going to look and feel like Jupiter then I imagine it would have similar characteristics.

Whoops - used radius instead of diameter in which case it would be brighter...

So, if its as bright as I calculated we would have seen it by now!


17-02-2011, 02:49 PM
Thanks for that, I have only just heard the term Albedo yesterday but as I am starting Uni I have only been flicking through podcasts (Astronomy 141, 101, 161). Thanks for that.

Brian W
17-02-2011, 04:51 PM
Ok since no one has raised the question I will, assuming it is there and it is not a Brown Dwarf; what will it be categorised as?

Certainly does -not- fit the definition of a planet in our solar system.


17-02-2011, 05:42 PM
It's a planet, pure and simple. No need to go into all these subcategories and defining nonsense, just because a few astronomers want to get complicated about things.

That's precisely why Pluto was demoted in the first place and why their definition of what a planet is, is virtually unworkable. It was only decided upon by 4% of the astronomers that were at the conference, most had left by the time the vote was taken.

It orbits our star, it's large (over 1000kms), self gravitating, has undergone hydrostatic equilibrium (i.e. it's a sphere)....it's a planet.

17-02-2011, 06:57 PM
But, non the less, it is THE official definition of a planet until it is changed - pure and simple.

17-02-2011, 07:29 PM
Yes, but it shouldn't be because they never consulted the wider professional community. That's why there was a big hullabaloo about it when it happened. They were probably in breach of the IAU's rules for voting in any case. The fact that they got it through was entirely political.

If you apply their new definitions in their strictest sense, there are no planets orbiting the Sun. All of them would have to be classed as dwarf planets, which is patently nonsense.

17-02-2011, 08:19 PM
Theres not much point argueing about it. We can't change it. We are not IAU members!

Anyway, my math was off. At Jupiters albedo it would be mag 32.6. With an asteroids albedo it would be mag 33.6 - both slighlty beyond Hubble in day long stare mode.

17-02-2011, 11:23 PM
No, we're not, however it just goes to show you....only a little over 400 members voted, out of a total of more than 10000 individual members.

Their chances of finding it are next to zero....unless it occults a star.

17-02-2011, 11:44 PM
Umm that doesn't compute with your "A lazy Astronomer" moniker....;)
just jesting:D Jeez If I had to do calc like that?!?! Not lazy to me:lol:

18-02-2011, 01:22 AM
I believe the prevailing thought was that it was a captured planet, thus it may/could/should/would/might be much greater than 4.6 Gyrs.

Then again, maybe not! :P

18-02-2011, 09:06 AM
Yes, I find myself becoming less lazy in that regard these days. Observing and discovering stuff implies a certain knowledge about that 'stuff' and mine was seriously lacking to date so I have bitten the bullet and tried to at least "understand" the math behind the mystery.

18-02-2011, 09:47 AM
Yes, it maybe native, just in a wacky orbit....but that wouldn't be the first time for a planet. We have plenty of example.

AG Hybrid
18-02-2011, 11:42 AM
Wow thats really very very dim. But hold on? Is that in visible light? What about in infrared? Isn't that the wave length used these days to hunt down brown dwarves and such? Things that don't emit much in visible light?:shrug:

18-02-2011, 11:51 AM
As an astronomer from ESO once told me, there would have to be a dedicated search for such an object, and which at that time about five years ago there was no search going on that he knew of.
There may be a serandipitous discovery but that was not very likely.

19-02-2011, 06:32 PM

Few robust discussions going on in mp circles too:

".....it's not a good idea to give to the hypothesized companion of the Sun the name Nemesis or Tyche, because Nemesis and Tyche are names of well-known asteroids:
Nemesis = asteroid No. 128,
Tyche = asteroid No. 258."

"The question is not really if WISE could detect a kind of far away gas giant that would have formed where there were no material to make it in the first place, it is to see if the *******s in the world (neomaya and the likes) are going to associate a potential non existing planet with their 2012 non existing Niburu, etc... if you google Tyche, you get a pretty good idea... And if it comes to NASA, something must be fishy..."

Bit of a non-story anyway. That WISE may or may not be capable of detecting it is completely irrelevant to its hypothesised existence (and 'narrowly' hypothesised, with not a huge amount of support it appears). Until we find out whether WISE did or did not detect it. Which we may know sometime in 2012. Or not. ;)

Cheers -

20-02-2011, 10:27 AM
That same thread clearly outlined some bigger issues for this hypothesis - Orbital instability and the fact that IR surveys (IRAS, MSX, AKARI) have been sufficient to cover anything dark and cold between us and the Alpha Centauri system...


20-02-2011, 10:49 AM
Yeah David, those new posts are very interesting, particularly the orbit stability questions. WISE had forerunners which can't be ignored, and WISE will only raise the upper limits of detection.

The mpml list is worth following for anyone interested in asteroid or comet research, or breaking news relating to solar system objects - an eclectic mix of professional & amateur observers (who don't mind a bit of argy-bargy at times!). Membership is required:


Cheers -

20-02-2011, 10:57 AM
The MPML membership includes all of the worlds leading professionals in this field (minor planets et al) - they don't post all the time but they do post from time to time (and they certainly don't 'suffer fools')


26-02-2011, 10:02 PM
I'll say my 2.2c worth - let's consider Fomalhault which ha a nice outer cloud of debris a la Oort cloud. Fomalhault B is right near that. I'd like scientists to spot enough extra solar planets around stars with dust clouds and compare what they find. If there's a bunch of big super giant planets always found near the outer ring of debris, then I'd say it's a typical formation pattern.


26-02-2011, 11:02 PM
The inner edge of the Fomalhaut debris disk is at a radial distance of only 133AU, while the Oort Cloud is hypothesized to be at 50,000AU from the Sun (almost a light-year). I gather there are real orbital stability problems at such vast distances. The Fomalhaut disk is a 'rough' equivalent of the Kuiper Belt in the Solar System, although it's a fair bit further out.

The Australian newspaper's weekend supplement carried the story today, and it was written more in the 'advance of science' style rather than pretty much just the controversial research of two scientists. Anyway, all will be revealed soon! :)

Cheers -