by Andy Lloyd

from DarkStar1 Website


It seems that we will have to wait until 2012-13 before we can get an answer to the question of whether a multiple-Jupiter-mass planet lurks out there unseen.


WISE, the powerful new infra-red survey, is hard at work hunting down brown dwarfs, and any Dark Star remaining to be discovered in the solar system should get spotted by this device.


But it won't be until 2012 or 2013 before we know for sure.


That's longer than I thought it would take, but makes sense given the fact that such an object would be very slow moving among the field of stars, and needs to be pinpointed by its relative motion in the sky, as well as by its bright infra-red signature.

"The great thing about WISE, as was also true of 2MASS, is that it's an all-sky survey,” said Kirkpatrick. “There will be some regions such as the Galactic Plane where the observations are less sensitive or fields more crowded, but we'll search those areas too. So we're not preferentially targeting certain directions.”

Our local neighborhood brown dwarf population is expected to show up in the WISE data:

"We may not have an answer to the Nemesis question until mid-2013. WISE needs to scan the sky twice in order to generate the time-lapsed images astronomers use to detect objects in the outer solar system. The change in location of an object between the time of the first scan and the second tells astronomers about the object’s location and orbit.


“I don't suspect we'll have completed the search for candidate objects until mid-2012, and then we may need up to a year of time to complete telescopic follow-up of those objects,” said Kirkpatrick."

For many reasons, I suspect that the Dark Star lies near to the galactic plane, in the constellation of Sagittarius.


This is one of the most difficult constellations to pinpoint solar system objects among the intense fields of background stars. It would generally be avoided by astronomers hunting for, say, Kuiper Belt objects. It sounds like the WISE team plan to take that constellation on, just like the rest.


But it won't be easy!



1)Leslie Mullen "Getting WISE about Nemesis" 11th March 2010
2) This led to the following article in 'The Sun', which has a UK circulation of 7 million: Paul Sutherland "Earth under Attack from Death Star"
3) And this then propagated around the Globe, in the great spirit of churnalism: Earth under attack from an invisible star?
4) And Search on for Death Star that throws out deadly comets