Rogue Planet X, The Nemesis Star
11 December 2000, Dallas, Texas
For additional information concerning the Oort Cloud, with a NASA graphic included, please see the document styled as DEATH STAR.
Conclusion : From this mathematical hypothesis, it can be determined that as of this month, 12 years in advance of its actual return date, Rogue Planet X would be located (12 X 57,000,000,000 =) 684,000,000,000 miles from Earth. That distance would equal (684 / 3.666 =) 186.58 times farther from the Sun than the mean distance to the Planet Pluto.
Conclusion : Therefore, hypothetically in this assumption, Rogue Planet X can only first be sighted by the discerning naked eye on the date of 3 December 2012 CE. Thus, in epochs long past, the "priests" of Sumeria would have needed to travel out into the dark deserts to watch for the arrival of the Planet Nibiru only about a month in advance of the mass-public naked-eye sighting by the vast majority of common people.
Will our Hubble Space Telescope be able to find it even beforehand? Does our Hubble Space Telescope have the technological capability to detect a Neptune-sized "Dark Planet" or "Dark Star" or "Night Sun" at a distance of 684 billion miles from here? Time will tell, of course.
Here that old idea of a "Gabriel's Horn" (a tumultuous noise that breaks through the very fabric of Space itself) again comes quickly to mind!
Questions : Are the "72 Archons Of Destiny" identical or otherwise connected with the "72 Branches" of "The Celestial Tree"? Is Rogue Planet X accompanied by a "host" of 72 planetoid satellites, one for each Archon, further emphasizing the recent idea that our companion "Dark Star" is a miniature Solar System in its own right? You can be the judge at this point.
10 December 2000, Dallas, Texas
The distance from the Sun to the outermost fringes of this Solar System, i.e., to the isotropic bubble known as the Oort Cloud, is estimated to be approximately 50,000 Astronomical Units (or AU). One AU is equivalent to the mean distance from the Sun to the Earth, which is 92,900,000 miles.
Thus, the Oort Cloud's radius from the Sun is about 1.3 trillion miles less than the distance of one Light-Year.
Assuming that "Planet X" (or some hypothetical companion Brown-Dwarf "Nemesis Star") does not "cross over" between the Sirius System and our Solar System (i.e., "Planet Of The Crossing" or "Planet Of The Passing Over"), that it ONLY traverses the internal distances of this Solar System; and assuming further that 900 Earth Years, one local "season" on Planet X, is spent tethered to Earth as the Object Hyperborea, then once Planet X detethers and begins its voyage back to its Oort Cloud Aphelion, where it turns around to repeat its return voyage to its Hyperborea Perihelion, in its elongated comet-like orbit, it would travel approximately twice the distance from the Sun to the Oort Cloud.
By way of comparison, the Earth travels around the Sun at a speed of 66,587.66 Miles Per Hour, as can be determined by the following calculations.
Earth's "space travel" speed is significantly faster than that of Planet X, as determined by this Intra-Solar-System Scenario; however, as per the previous calculations of the speed of Planet X, if it does indeed travel or "cross over" from the Sirius System to our System, its previous rate of 6,500,000 Miles Per Hour is approximately 100 times the speed of Earth in our orbit.
Assuming that Planet X's return date coincides with the next Chinese Year of the Dragon and the Mayan End-Time Date, then at the present time it would be (12 X 344,074,074 =) 4,128,888,888 Miles distant from the Sun. That is about half a trillion miles greater than the mean distance from the Sun to the Planet Pluto, which is 3,666,000,000 Miles.
In this Intra-Solar-System Scenario, where Planet X does not "cross" or "pass" over from one star system to another, when this Uranus/Neptune-sized Planet reaches the inner Solar System, it would become visible to the naked-eye at some point in time, perhaps at a distance of 2 trillion miles, midway between the Planets Neptune and Uranus.
In such a case, Planet X would first become visible to the naked eye 5.813 Years prior to the date of 21 December 2012.
NOTA BENE -- "The Planet Of The Crossing" is intimately associated with the Jewish Passover, as a "Planet Of The Passing Over". Since the Jewish Passover is connected to both the onset of Spring and to the annual Christian Easter Date, this serendipitous hypothetical projection harmonizes quite well with the approximate seasonality of the Jewish Passover. In fact, Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky quite significantly and coincidentally postulated in WORLDS IN COLLISION that his "Mars Catastrophe" (i.e., the departure detethering sequence of the Hyperborea Planet X) began on 26 February 747 BCE and ended on 23 March 687 BCE. And because Dr. Velikovsky's "Venus Catastrophe" (i.e., the arrival tethering sequence of the Hyperborea Planet X) accompanied the Israelite Exodus from Egypt (following the very first Passover), then that earlier "Venus Catastrophe" also occurred around the time of the Vernal Equinox, although Dr. Velikovsky did not provide an absolutely specific calendar date for his "Venus Catastrophe" or Exodus-Santorini Cataclysm.
It must be emphasized here that my calculation resulting in this February date for the year 2007 was "serendipitous" in the sense that a naked-eye visibility distance from Earth might first occur at a distance of 2 billion miles. If one were to use a distance of 2.7 billion miles, for example, the mean distance to Neptune, as was used in the previous essay, this latest calculation would not necessarily be the same. This is an "accidental" conclusion based solely upon the mathematics contained here, in which a distance of 2 billion miles was rather arbitrarily selected. However, it is certainly "interesting" that it was computed as such, but this serendipity does not imply complete accuracy.
For the record, Easter Sunday in 2007 will fall on April 8. Thus, the Jewish Passover would precede that Sunday by several days, perhaps even a week or more.
In conclusion, as I have stated time and time again, ONLY when Planet X once more becomes visible either to the Hubble Space Telescope or to the naked eye shall we be able to compute with greater certainty all of these various mathematical factors.
Appended below are several reference sources from the Web. I am including them without particularly editing them beyond the way that they have copied from their sources and pasted into this document. If you have additional interest in them, you can review them at the URLs from which they were obtained.
Without making specific comments on all of the material presented below, I shall emphasize a quote from an ancient myth that is found near the end of this material. As for all the other information, when you read it, keep in mind the parameters of the Twelfth Planet Scenario postulated by Zecharia Sitchin.
Compare, since Perseus borders Cassiopeia
The Dallas Morning News, University of Texas McDonald Observatory.
The Kuiper Belt & The Oort Cloud
By Bill Arnett
In 1950 Jan Oort noticed that :
From this he proposed that comets reside in a vast cloud at the outer reaches of the solar system. This has come to be known as the Oort Cloud. The statistics imply that it may contain many as a trillion (1e12) comets. Unfortunately, since the individual comets are so small and at such large distances, we have no direct evidence about the Oort Cloud.
The Oort Cloud may account for a significant fraction of the mass of the solar system, perhaps as much or even more than Jupiter. (This is highly speculative, however; we don't know how many comets there are out there nor how big they are.)
The Kuiper Belt is a disk-shaped region past the orbit of Neptune roughly 30 to 100 AU from the Sun containing many small icy bodies. It is now considered to be the source of the short-period comets.
Occasionally the orbit of a Kuiper Belt object will be disturbed by the interactions of the giant planets in such a way as to cause the object to cross the orbit of Neptune. It will then very likely have a close encounter with Neptune sending it out of the solar system or into an orbit crossing those of the other giant planets or even into the inner solar system.
In 1841, John Couch Adams began investigating the by then quite large residuals in the motion of Uranus. In 1845, Urbain Le Verrier started to investigate them, too. Adams presented two different solutions to the problem, assuming that the deviations were caused by the gravitation from an unknown planet. Adams tried to present his solutions to the Greenwich observatory, but since he was young and unknown, he wasn't taken seriously. Urbain Le Verrier presented his solution in 1846, but France lacked the necessary resources to locate the planet. Le Verrier then instead turned to the Berlin observatory, where Galle and his assistant d'Arrest found Neptune on the evening of Sept 23, 1846. Nowadays, both Adams and Le Verrier share the credit of having predicted the existence and position of Neptune. (Inspired by this success, Le Verrier attacked the problem of the deviations of Mercury's orbit, and suggested the existence of an intra-mercurial planet, Vulcan, which later turned out to be non-existent.)
On 30 Sept 1846, one week after the discovery of Neptune, Le Verrier declared that there may be still another unknown planet out there. On October 10, Neptune's large moon Triton was discovered, which yielded an easy way to accurately determine the mass of Neptune, which turned out to be 2% larger than expected from the perturbations upon Uranus. It seemed as if the deviations in Uranus' motion really was caused by two planets -- in addition the real orbit of Neptune turned out to be significantly different from the orbits predicted by both Adams and Le Verrier.
In 1850 Ferguson was observing the motion of the minor planet Hygeia. One reader of Ferguson's report was Hind, who checked the reference stars used by Ferguson. Hind was unable to find one of Ferguson's reference stars. Maury, at the Naval Observatory, was also unable to find that star. During a few years it was believed that this was an observation of yet another planet, but in 1879 another explanation was offered: Ferguson had made a mistake when recording his observation -- when that mistake was corrected, another star nicely fit his 'missing reference star'.
The first serious attempt to find a trans-Neptunian planet was done in 1877 by David Todd. He used a "graphical method", and despite the inconclusivenesses of the residuals of Uranus, he derived elements for a trans-Neptunian planet: mean distance 52 a.u., period 375 years, magnitude fainter than 13. Its longitude for 1877.84 was given 170 degrees with an uncertainty of 10 degrees. The inclination was 1.40 degrees and the longitude of the ascending node 103 degrees.
In 1879, Camille Flammarion added another hint as to the existence of a planet beyond Neptune: the aphelia of periodic comets tend to cluster around the orbits of major planets. Jupiter has the greatest share of such comets, and Saturn, Uranus and Neptune also have a few each. Flammarion found two comets, 1862 III with a period of 120 years and aphelion at 47.6 a.u., and 1889 II, with a somewhat longer period and aphelion at 49.8 a.u. Flammarion suggested that the hypothetical planet probably moved at 45 a.u.
One year later, in 1880, professor Forbes published a memoir concerning the aphelia of comets and their association with planetary orbits. By about 1900 five comets were known with aphelia outside Neptune's orbit, and then Forbes suggested one trans-Neptunian moved at a distance of about 100 a.u., and another one at 300 a.u., with periods of 1000 and 5000 years.
During the next five years, several astronomers/mathematicians published their own ideas of what might be found in the outer parts of the solar system. Gaillot at Paris Observatory assumed two trans-Neptunian planets at 45 and 60 a.u. Thomas Jefferson Jackson See predicted three trans-Neptunian planets: "Oceanus" at 41.25 a.u. and period 272 years, "trans-Oceanus" at 56 a.u. and period 420 years, and finally another one at 72 a.u. and period 610 years. Dr Theodor Grigull of Munster, Germany, assumed in 1902 a Uranus-sized planet at 50 a.u. and period 360 years, which he called "Hades". Grigull based his work mainly on the orbits of comets with aphelia beyond Neptune's orbit, with a cross check whether the gravitational pull of such a body would produce the observed deviations in Uranus motion. In 1921 Grigull revised the orbital period of "Hades" to 310-330 years, to better fit the observed deviations.
In 1900 Hans-Emil Lau, Copenhagen, published elements of two trans-Neptunian planets at 46.6 and 70.7 a.u. distance, with masses of 9 and 47.2 times the Earth, and a magnitude for the nearer planet around 10-11. The 1900 longitudes of those hypothetical bodies were 274 and 343 degrees, both with the very large uncertainty of 180 degrees.
In 1901, Gabriel Dallet deduced a hypothetical planet at 47 a.u. with a magnitude of 9.5-10.5 and a 1900 longitude of 358 degrees. The same year Theodor Grigull derived a longitude of a trans-Neptunian planet less than 6 degrees away from Dallet's planet, and later brought the difference down to 2.5 degrees. This planet was supposed to be 50.6 a.u. distant.
In 1904, Thomas Jefferson Jackson See suggested three trans-Neptunian planets, at 42.25, 56 and 72 a.u. The inner planet had a period of 272.2 years and a longitude in 1904 of 200 degrees. A Russian general named Alexander Garnowsky suggested four hypothetical planets but failed to supply any details about them.
The two most carefully worked out predictions for the Trans-Neptune were both of American origin: Pickering's "A search for a planet beyond Neptune" (Annals Astron. Obs. Harvard Coll, vol LXI part II 1909), and Percival Lowell's "Memoir on a trans-Neptunian planet" (Lynn, Mass 1915). They were concerned with the same subject but used different approaches and arrived at different results.
Pickering used a graphical analysis and suggested a "Planet O" at 51.9 a.u. with a period of 373.5 years, a mass twice the Earth's and a magnitude of 11.5-14. Pickering suggested eight other trans-Neptunian planets during the forthcoming 24 years. Pickering's results caused Gaillot to revise the distances of his two trans-Neptunians to 44 and 66 a.u., and he gave them masses of 5 and 24 Earth masses.
All in all, from 1908 to 1932, Pickering proposed seven hypothetical planets -- O, P, Q, R, S, T and U. His final elements for O and P define completely different bodies than the original ones, so the total can be set at nine, certainly the record for planetary prognostication. Most of Pickering's predictions are only of passing interest as curiosities. In 1911 Pickering suggested that planet Q had a mass of 20,000 Earths, making it 63 times more massive than Jupiter or about 1/6 the Sun's mass, close to a star of minimal mass. Pickering said planet Q had a highly elliptical orbit.
In later years only planet P seriously occupied his attention. In 1928 he reduced the distance of P from 123 to 67.7 a.u., and its period from 1400 to 556.6 years. He gave P a mass of 20 Earth masses and a magnitude of 11. In 1931, after the discovery of Pluto, he issued another elliptical orbit for P: distance 75.5 a.u., period 656 years, mass 50 Earth masses, eccentricity 0.265, inclination 37 degrees, close to the values given for the 1911 orbit. His Planet S, proposed in 1928 and given elements in 1931, was put at 48.3 a.u. distance (close to Lowell's Planet X at 47.5 a.u.), period 336 years, mass 5 Earths, magnitude 15. In 1929 Pickering proposed planet U, distance 5.79 a.u., period 13.93 years, i.e. barely outside Jupiter's orbit. Its mass was 0.045 Earth masses, eccentricity 0.26. The least of Pickering's planets is planet T, suggested in 1931: distance 32.8 a.u., period 188 years.
Pickering's different elements for planet O were:
Percival Lowell, most well known as a proponent for canals on Mars, built a private observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Lowell called his hypothetical planet Planet X, and performed several searches for it, without success. Lowell's first search for Planet X came to an end in 1909, but in 1913 he started a second search, with a new prediction of Planet X: epoch 1850-01-01, mean long 11.67 deg, perih. long 186, eccentricity 0.228, mean dist 47.5 a.u. long arc node 110.99 deg, inclination 7.30 deg, mass 1/21000 solar masses. Lowell and others searched in vain for this Planet X in 1913-1915. In 1915, Lowell published his theoretical results of Planet X. It is ironical that this very same year, 1915, two faint images of Pluto was recorded at Lowell observatory, although they were never recognized as such until after the discovery of Pluto (1930). Lowell's failure of finding Planet X was his greatest disappointment in life. He didn't spend much time looking for Planet X during the last two years of his life. Lowell died in 1916. On the nearly 1000 plates exposed in this second search were 515 asteroids, 700 variable stars and 2 images of Pluto!
The third search for Planet X began in April 1927. No progress was made in 1927-1928. In December 1929 a young farmer's boy and amateur astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh from Kansas, was hired to do the search. Tombaugh started his work in April 1929. On January 23 and 29, Tombaugh exposed the pair of plates on which he found Pluto when examining them on February 18. By then Tombaugh had examined hundreds of plate pairs an d millions of stars. The search for Planet X had come to an end.
Or had it? The new planet, later named Pluto, turned out to be disappointingly small, perhaps only one Earth mass put probably only about 1/10 Earth masses or smaller (in 1979, when Pluto's satellite Charon was discovered, the mass of the Pluto-Charon pair turned out to be only about 1/1000 Earth mass!). Planet X must, if it was causing those perturbations in the orbit of Uranus, be much larger than that! Tombaugh continued his search another 13 years, and examined the sky from the north celestial pole to 50 deg. south declination, down to magnitude 16-17, sometimes even 18. Tombaugh examined some 90 million images of some 30 million stars over more than 30,000 square degrees on the sky. He found one new globular cluster, 5 new open star clusters, one new supercluster of 1800 galaxies and several new small galaxy clusters, one new comet, about 775 new asteroids -- but no new planet except Pluto. Tombaugh concluded that no unknown planet brighter than magnitude 16.5 did exist -- only a planet in an almost polar orbit and situated near the south celestial pole could have escaped his detection. He could have picked up a Neptune-sized planet at seven times the distance of Pluto, or a Pluto-sized planet out to 60 a.u.
The naming of Pluto is a story by itself. Early suggestions of the name of the new planet were: Atlas, Zymal, Artemis, Perseus, Vulcan, Tantalus, Idana, Cronus. The New York Times suggested Minerva, reporters suggested Osiris, Bacchus, Apollo, Erebus. Lowell's widow suggested Zeus, but later changed her mind to Constance. Many people suggested the planet be named Lowell. The staff of the Flagstaff observatory, where Pluto was discovered, suggested Cronus, Minerva, and Pluto. A few months later the planet was officially named Pluto. The name Pluto was originally suggested by Venetia Burney, an 11-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England.
The very first orbit computed for Pluto yielded an eccentricity of 0.909 and a period of 3000 years! This cast some doubt whether it was a planet or not. However, a few months later, considerably better orbital elements for Pluto was obtained. Below is a comparison of the orbital elements of Lowell's Planet X, Pickering's Planet O, and Pluto:
Lowell's X Pickering's O Pluto
The mass of Pluto was very hard to determine. Several values were given at different times -- the matter wasn't settled until James W. Christy discovered Pluto's moon Charon in June 1978 -- Pluto was then shown to have only 20% of the mass of our Moon! That made Pluto hopelessly inadequate to produce measurable gravitational perturbations on Uranus and Neptune. Pluto could not be Lowell's Planet X -- the planet found was not the planet sought. What seemed to be another triumph of celestial mechanics turned out to be an accident -- or rather a result of the intelligence and thoroughness of Clyde Tombaugh's search.
The mass of Pluto:
Another short-lived trans-Neptunian suspect was reported on April 22 1930 by R.M. Stewart in Ottawa, Canada -- it was reported from plates taken in 1924. Crommelin computed an orbit (dist 39.82 a.u., asc node 280.49 deg, inclination 49.7 deg!). Tombaugh searched for the "Ottawa object" without finding it. Several other searches were made, but nothing was ever found.
Meanwhile Pickering continued to predict new planets (see above). Others also predicted new planets on theoretical grounds (Lowell himself had already suggested a second trans-Neptunian at about 75 a.u.). In 1946, Francis M. E. Sevin suggested a trans-Plutonian planet at 78 a.u. He first derived this from a curious empirical method where he grouped the planets and the erratic asteroid Hidalgo, into two groups of inner and outer bodies:
He then added the logarithms of the periods of each pair of planets, finding a roughly constant sum of about 7.34. Assuming this sum to be valid for Mercury and the trans-Plutonian too, he arrived at a period of about 677 years for "Transpluto". Later Sevin worked out a full set of elements for "Transpluto": dist 77.8 a.u., period 685.8 years, eccentricity 0.3, mass 11.6 Earth masses. His prediction stirred little interest among astronomers.
In 1950, K. Schutte of Munich used data from eight periodic comets to suggest a trans-Plutonian planet at 77 a.u. Four years later, H. H. Kitzinger of Karlsruhe, using the same eight comets, extended and refined the work, finding the supposed planet to be at 65 a.u., with a period of 523.5 years, an orbital inclination of 56 degrees, and an estimated magnitude of 11. In 1957, Kitzinger reworked the problem and arrived at new elements: dist 75.1 a.u., period 650 years, inclination 40 degrees, magnitude around 10. After unsuccessful photographic searches, he re-worked the problem once again in 1959, arriving at a mean dist of 77 a.u., period 675.7 years, inclination 38 degrees, eccentricity 0.07, a planet not unlike Sevin's "Transpluto" and in some ways similar to Pickering's final Planet P. No such planet has ever been found, though.
Halley's Comet has also been used as a "probe" for trans-Plutonian planets. In 1942 R. S. Richardson found that an Earth-sized planet at 36.2 a.u., or 1 a.u. beyond Halley's aphelion, would delay Halley's perihelion passage so that it agreed better with observations. A planet at 35.3 a.u. of 0.1 Earth masses would have a similar effect. In 1972, Brady predicted a planet at 59.9 a.u., period 464 years, eccentricity 0.07, inclination 120 degrees (i.e. being in a retrograde orbit), magnitude 13-14, size about Saturn's size. Such a trans-Plutonian planet would reduce the residuals of Halley's Comet significantly back to the 1456 perihelion passage. This gigantic trans-Plutonian planet was also searched for, but never found.
Tom van Flandern examined the positions of Uranus and Neptune in the 1970s. The calculated orbit of Neptune fit observations only for a few years, and then started to drift away. Uranus orbit fit the observations during one revolution but not during the previous revolution. In 1976 Tom van Flandern became convinced that there was a tenth planet. After the discovery of Charon in 1978 showed the mass of Pluto to be much smaller than expected, van Flandern convinced his USNO colleague Robert S. Harrington of the existence of this tenth planet. They started to collaborate by investigate the Neptunian satellite system. Soon their views diverged. van Flandern thought the tenth planet had formed beyond Neptune's orbit, while Harrington believed it had formed between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. van Flandern thought more data was needed, such as an improved mass for Neptune furnished by Voyager 2. Harrington started to search for the planet by brute force -- he started in 1979, and by 1987 he had still not found any planet. van Flandern and Harrington suggested that the tenth planet might be near aphelion in a highly elliptical orbit. If the planet is dark, it might be as faint as magnitude 16-17, suggests van Flandern.
In 1987, Whitmire and Matese suggested a tenth planet at 80 a.u. with a period of 700 years and an inclination of perhaps 45 degrees, as an alternative to their "Nemesis" hypothesis. However, according to Eugene M. Shoemaker, this planet could not have caused those meteor showers that Whitmire and Matese suggested (see below).
In 1987, John Anderson at JPL examined the motions of the spacecraft Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, to see if any deflection due to unknown gravity forces could be found. None was found -- from this Anderson concluded that a tenth planet most likely exists! JPL had excluded observations of Uranus prior to 1910 in their ephemerides, while Anderson had confidence in the earlier observations as well. Anderson concluded that the tenth planet must have a highly elliptical orbit, carrying it far away to be undetectable now but periodically bringing it close enough to leave its disturbing signature on the paths of the outer planets. He suggests a mass of five Earth masses, an orbital period of about 700-1000 years, and a highly inclined orbit. Its perturbations on the outer planets won't be detected again until 2600. Anderson hoped that the two Voyagers would help to pin down the location of this planet.
Conley Powell, from JPL, also analyzed the planetary motions. He also found that the observations of Uranus suddenly did fit the calculations much better after 1910 than before. Powell suggested a planet with 2.9 Earth masses at 60.8 a.u. from the Sun, a period of 494 years, inclination 8.3 degrees and only a small eccentricity. Powell was intrigued that the period was approximately twice Pluto's and three times Neptune's period, suggesting that the planet he thought he saw in the data had an orbit stabilized by mutual resonance with its nearest neighbours despite their vast separation. The solution called for the planet to be in Gemini, and also being brighter than Pluto when it was discovered. A search was performed in 1987 at Lowell Observatory for Powell's planet -- nothing was found. Powell re-examined his solution and revised the elements: 0.87 Earth masses, distance 39.8 a.u., period 251 years, eccentricity 0.26, i.e. an orbit very similar to Pluto's! Currently, Powell's new planet should be in Leo, at magnitude 12, however Powell thinks it's premature to search for it, he needs to examine his data further.
Even if no trans-Plutonian planet ever was found, the interest was focused to the outer parts of the solar system. The erratic asteroid Hidalgo, moving in an orbit between Jupiter and Saturn, has already been mentioned. In 1977-1984 Charles Kowal performed a new systematic search for undiscovered bodies in the solar system, using Palomar Observatory's 48-inch Schmidt telescope. In October 1987 he found the asteroid 1977 UB, later named Chiron, moving at mean distance 13.7 a.u., period 50.7 years, eccentricity 0.3786, inclination 6.923 deg, diameter about 50 km. During his search, Kowal also found 5 comets and 15 asteroids, including Chiron, the most distant asteroid known when it was discovered. Kowal also recovered 4 lost comets and one lost asteroid. Kowal did not find a tenth planet, and concluded that there was no unknown planet brighter than 20th magnitude within 3 degrees of the ecliptic.
Chiron was first announced as a "tenth planet", but was immediately designated as an asteroid. But Kowal suspected it may be very comet-like, and later it has even developed a short cometary tail! In 1995 Chiron was also classified as a comet -- it is certainly the largest comet we know about.
In 1992 an even more distant asteroid was found: Pholus. Later in 1992 an asteroid outside Pluto's orbit was found, followed by five additional trans-Plutonian asteroids in 1993 and at least a dozen in 1994!
Meanwhile, the spacecraft Pioneer 10 and 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2 had travelled outside the solar system, and could also be used as "probes" for unknown gravitational forces possibly from unknown planets -- nothing has been found. The Voyagers also yielded more accurate masses for the outer planets -- when these updated masses were inserted in the numerical integrations of the solar system, the residuals in the positions of the outer planets finally disappeared. It seems like the search for "Planet X" finally has come to an end. There was no "Planet X" (Pluto doesn't really count), but instead an asteroid belt outside Neptune/Pluto was found! The asteroids outside Jupiter's orbit that were known in August 1993 are as follows:
In November 1994 these trans-Neptunian asteroids were known:
The trans-Neptunian bodies seem to form two groups. One group, composed of Pluto, 1993 SC, 1993 SB and 1993 RO, have eccentric orbits and a 3:2 resonance with Neptune. The second group, including 1992 QB1 and 1993 FW, is slightly further out and in rather low eccentricity.
Suppose our Sun was not alone but had a companion star. Suppose that this companion star moved in an elliptical orbit, its solar distance varying between 90,000 a.u. (1.4 light years) and 20,000 a.u., with a period of 30 million years. Also suppose this star is dark or at least very faint, and because of that we haven't noticed it yet.
This would mean that once every 30 million years that hypothetical companion star of the Sun would pass through the Oort cloud (a hypothetical cloud of proto-comets at a great distance from the Sun). During such a passage, the proto-comets in the Oort cloud would be stirred around. Some tens of thousands of years later, here on Earth we would notice a dramatic increase in the the number of comets passing the inner solar system. If the number of comets increases dramatically, so does the risk of the Earth colliding with the nucleus of one of those comets.
When examining the Earth's geological record, it appears that about once every 30 million years a mass extinction of life on Earth has occurred. The most well-known of those mass extinctions is of course the dinosaur extinction some 65 million years ago. About 15 million years from now it's time for the next mass extinction, according to this hypothesis.
This hypothetical "death companion" of the Sun was suggested in 1985 by Daniel P. Whitmire and John J. Matese, Univ of Southern Louisiana. It has even received a name: Nemesis. One awkward fact of the Nemesis hypothesis is that there is no evidence whatever of a companion star of the Sun. It need not be very bright or very massive, a star much smaller and dimmer than the Sun would suffice, even a brown or a black dwarf (a planet-like body insufficiently massive to start "burning hydrogen" like a star). It is possible that this star already exists in one of the catalogues of dim stars without anyone having noted something peculiar, namely the enormous apparent motion of that star against the background of more distant stars (i.e. its parallax). If it should be found, few will doubt that it is the primary cause of periodic mass extinctions on Earth.
But this is also a notion of mythical power. If an anthropologist of a previous generation had heard such a story from his informants, the resulting scholarly tome would doubtless use words like 'primitive' or 'pre-scientific'. Consider this story: "There is another Sun in the sky, a Demon Sun we cannot see. Long ago, even before great-grandmother's time, the Demon Sun attacked our Sun. Comets fell, and a terrible winter overtook the Earth. Almost all life was destroyed. The Demon Sun has attacked many times before. It will attack again." This is why some scientists thought this Nemesis theory was a joke when they first heard of it -- an invisible Sun attacking the Earth with comets sounds like delusion or myth. It deserves an additional dollop of skepticism for that reason: we are always in danger of deceiving ourselves. But even if the theory is speculative, it's serious and respectable, because its main idea is testable: you find the star and examine its properties.
However, since the examination of the entire sky in the far IR by IRAS with no "Nemesis" found, the existence of "Nemesis" is not very likely.
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Theoretical studies and observations of the recently discovered object 1996 TL66 suggest the existence of an additional component to the trans-Neptunian region, the so-called scattered Kuiper Belt. These objects are characterized by highly eccentric orbits extending to ~130 AU. They may have been planetesimals that were scattered out of the Uranus-Neptune region into eccentric orbits. Their existence poses the question of whether the Kuiper Belt extends as far as the Oort Cloud. Dynamical studies of the trans-Neptunian region show that orbits with a < 35 AU and with 40 < a < 42 AU are very unstable to gravitational perturbations by Neptune and Uranus. These studies show that a small fraction of KBOs continue to stray into these unstable zones where they are likely to suffer major perturbations, confirming an earlier suggestion that the disk-like Kuiper Belt is the more probable source of low-inclination, short-period, Jupiter-family comets than is the isotropically distributed Oort Cloud.
Although the absence of KBOs within 35 AU can be explained by Neptune's perturbations, the lack of objects in the dynamically stable region of low-eccentricity orbits between 36 and 39 AU remains an important mystery. Malhotra has proposed that Neptune's orbit has evolved outward, sweeping up objects into the stable 3:2 resonance and clearing the inner Kuiper Belt. Others have proposed the presence of as-yet-undetected massive perturbers that have cleared the 36- to 39-AU gap.
Jewitt and colleagues have argued that the inclination distribution of the trans-Neptunian objects is important because it controls the velocity dispersion among these objects and hence determines whether the collisional regime is erosive or agglomerative. The upper part of Figure 2.1 suggests that objects located in resonant orbits have higher inclinations, consistent with the dynamical studies. Malhotra's work also shows that the fraction of KBOs whose orbits are pumped up into higher inclinations as they are swept into resonances depends on the time scale for outward migration of the giant planets. She also points out that these resonant orbits tend to put the objects farthest from the ecliptic at perihelion (when they are brightest) so that searches need to cover a broad band of latitudes in order to avoid a selection bias in sampling the KBO population.
NASA is reconsidering its decision to cancel the 2004 "Pluto-Kuiper Express" that would have flown by Pluto -- the last unexplored planet -- before heading off to a Kuiper belt object.
Facing a deadline imposed by nature itself, NASA is said to be hearing the message from the planetary science community that due to no other reason that circumstance a mission to Pluto must launch in 2004 to reach the distant world by 2012 before its atmosphere freezes out as the planet moves far from the Sun on its highly elliptic 248-year orbit.
As reported last month in our series on the recent meeting of NASA's Solar System Exploration Subcommittee, the Pluto mission had encountered a double whammy.
Not only had it -- and the other outer planet mission -- Europa Orbiter encountered major cost rises due to technical problems, but in late October NASA at the direction of Administrator Dan Goldin transferred $100 million of the OP Program's $250 million annual funding over to the Mars exploration program.
This would increase the funding of the Mars program to fully three times the total level of the Outer Planets program, despite missions to the outer Solar System being considerably harder and more expensive.
On top of this, NASA was insisting, with the support of the White House and the Office of Management and Budget that the Europa Orbiter mission was far more important.
There is, however, some evidence that OMB did so only because of private urgings from NASA management itself, based on Goldin's belief in the scientific and social importance of "astrobiological" missions in the search for life elsewhere in the our Solar System.
The cost overruns of the two missions, by themselves, would still have allowed the 2004 launch of the Pluto mission with a one or two year delay for the Europa Orbiter to around 2008-2010.
But the combination of this and the other developments led to explicit orders from NASA to cancel the 2004 Pluto launch, with NASA concentrating its resources on launching the more technically difficult Europa mission in 2006, and delaying the Pluto mission to later in the decade, if at all.
This move infuriated many planetary scientists, because -- while the Europa mission can be delayed any length of time without any loss in actual scientific data -- Pluto is virtually unique in being a scientific subject that won't wait.
Having just passed perihelion, it is moving further from the Sun in its lopsided orbit. And on top of that, Pluto's spin axis is tilted fully 60 degrees, so like Uranus it 'lies on its side" -- and, by chance, at perihelion it is almost side-on toward the Sun.
Currently one of its poles is gradually tilting further and further away from the Sun, and so an increasing surface area around that pole is being cast into permanent nighttime shadow.
This means that more and more of its surface area will be unavailable for a probe to photograph, and that the cold nighttime pole provides a growing patch of supercold surface for the atmosphere to freeze out as a polar cap, and accelerating the rate at which Pluto's atmosphere disappears.
Moreover, if the 2004 launch opportunity is missed, a Pluto-bound probe would be unable to utilize a gravity-assist flyby of Jupiter to catapult itself out to Pluto.
A Pluto mission, even if delayed only a year beyond that, will require alternate techniques to reach the planet -- probably involving both multiple gravity-assist flybys of the inner planets and some active onboard propulsion system -- which would increase the overall cost of the mission and substantially delay its arrival at Pluto, probably to about 2020 at the earliest. By which time the atmosphere will have largely frozen out.
For all these reasons, the October meeting of the SSES solidly reconfirmed its earlier recommendation that the Outer Planets Program will produce much more scientific bang for the buck if the Pluto mission is launched first, even if the Europa mission -- considered separately -- is more valuable on balance.
It also recommended that NASA should consider trying to reduce the cost of both missions by removing them from their current monopoly management by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and select contractors through a competitive bidding process.
Despite this, all indications until now were that NASA would stick by its decision to delay the Pluto mission -- perhaps until 2009 or so -- and fly the Europa Orbiter first.
However, Louis Friedman, director of the Planetary Society, has now said in a Dec. 5 message directed both at the planetary science community and at the general public: "Whereas a few weeks ago I was pretty sure we would lose the battle for a 2004 Pluto mission, I now think a recount is in order. ... We hear little wisps of Pluto in the air -- engendered by several things."
Friedman then proceeded to list his reasons:
Additionally Friedman says another factor that is non-scientific, could be the deciding factor:
When Dan Goldin tentatively scheduled the Europa launch ahead of the Pluto launch two years ago, he reportedly said:
Since the cancellation The Planetary Society has requested that interested people send postcards to the two Congressional committees responsible for astronautics funding.
Originally they had hoped for one or two thousand messages of support -- but they got over 10,000, all of which the Society personally delivered to the chairmen of the two committees.
Friedman has suggested that this is partly due to Pluto's mystique as "the last unexplored planet" -- and certainly as the biggest totally unexplored world left in the Solar System.
For all these reasons, NASA could be reconsidering its decision. But if such a switch occurs, it will have to be soon, or it will be too late to initiate a 2004 Pluto mission be it JPL or some other organization managing it.