back to article OTHER EARTHS may be orbiting our Sun beyond Neptune

Astroboffins believe at least two hidden planets may exist in our solar system – far beyond Pluto. If the claim from scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge is confirmed, the "results may be truly revolutionary for astronomy," said Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, who co-authored the study …

  1. thomas k.

    Nibiru!

    I guess all those wackos were right, after all.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Nibiru!

      Take a mars bar and call me in the morning.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nibiru!

        How about an Amond Joy instead -- my favourite nut bar.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Nibiru!

          You went off-Topic (damn, that's another bar)

          1. Mpeler
            Coat

            Re: Nibiru!

            They're probably just Lion......

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Nibiru!

      Man, the Nemesis theory never really dies, does it? It just keeps altering forms.

  2. TitterYeNot
    Coat

    Going interplanetary

    Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt have started planning an exploratory expedition, co-funded by Amazon and Google, on hearing this news today. A spokesperson for Amazon was earlier reported to have said:-

    We look forward to the discovery of planet Google and planet Amazon, which we will claim as our respective international and interplanetary headquarters. If any indigenous life forms are found, we will of course be glad to pay them generously for the privilege, with corporation tax at 0.00001 percent.

    Oh, and fuck you, European Commission...

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Going interplanetary

      One can only hope.

  3. Geoff May

    "our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets"

    Yeah, one is called Pluto and the other is Persephone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets"

      Louis Wu, is that you?

  4. James 51

    Any idea of their size? If they're Pluto sized or smaller then they'll be planatoids/dwarf planets.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      They must be way bigger to show up in the calculations.

      We already know there are larger fish than the Not-Planet Known To Be Inhabited By Dwarfs:

      Best Served Cold Objects

      There may even be quite a few mars-massing objects in non-ecliptic orbits. These are known as "Oligarchs". None has been found so far though.

      Checking the abstract indicates that they expect larger-than Earth masses:

      The existence of an outer planet beyond Pluto has been a matter of debate for decades and the recent discovery of 2012 VP113 has just revived the interest for this controversial topic. This Sedna-like object has the most distant perihelion of any known minor planet and the value of its argument of perihelion is close to 0°. This property appears to be shared by almost all known asteroids with semimajor axis greater than 150 au and perihelion greater than 30 au (the extreme trans-Neptunian objects or ETNOs), and this fact has been interpreted as evidence for the existence of a super-Earth at 250 au. In this scenario, a population of stable asteroids may be shepherded by a distant, undiscovered planet larger than the Earth that keeps the value of their argument of perihelion librating around 0° as a result of the Kozai mechanism. Here, we study the visibility of these ETNOs and confirm that the observed excess of objects reaching perihelion near the ascending node cannot be explained in terms of any observational biases. This excess must be a true feature of this population and its possible origin is explored in the framework of the Kozai effect. The analysis of several possible scenarios strongly suggest that at least two trans-Plutonian planets must exist.

      "2012 VP113" is of course also called "Biden".

      1. Mpeler
        Angel

        If only it were farther away...

        "2012 VP113" is of course also called "Biden".

        Yeah, a half-asteroid......

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      @James 51

      I remember reading on Friday they may be Earth like in size.

      1. Chris Miller

        The second link (abstract, I haven't read the full article) talks about a super-Earth.

    3. PleebSmash

      mystery TNOs

      They have to be pretty small and pretty far away from Neptune.

      The many TNOs found since the 90s and 2000s are very small, Pluto-like, with very eccentric orbits and satellites in some cases. More recent finds are more like Ceres.

      X marks the... They SAID there was a mystery planet there – NASA

      However, despite finding thousands of new stars in its survey of the sky, WISE was unable to spot any object the size of Saturn or larger to a distance of 10,000 astronomical units (1.49597871 × 1015m, or 9.29558073 × 1011 miles) and nothing bigger than Jupiter out to 26,000 AU.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: mystery TNOs

        Don't be too proud of that technological marvel you have created. The power of your infrared detector is insignificant compared to the vastness of SPACE:

        Search for Potential 'Planet X' Far From Over

    4. A J

      Pluto's declassification as a planet has nothing to do with it's size. Pluto has not cleared its orbital neighbourhood of debris, and so cannot be considered a planet under the new classification system.

      1. DreadPirateRobot

        Additionally it is not in hydrostatic equilibrium.

        Interestingly, the definition for a planet only applies within our solar system. Technically, there are no planets outside of it. (Not digging out my dissertation to find the source - Oh look, it is on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IAU_definition_of_planet)

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon
          Pirate

          We must send our four fastest ships, one in each direction. Super planets are always lurking around Sol at this time of the galactic rotation.

          However, have you considered that they might not want to be part of the Solar System? After all, it was Sol that (r)ejected them* in the fire swamp early days?

          *Possibly.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Impressive

    Besides, future dynamical evolution [of suspiciously extra-solar comet 96P/Machholz 1] displays orbital flips when its eccentricity is excited to a high value and its orbit turns over by nearly 180°, rolling over its major axis. This unusual behaviour, that is preserved when post-Newtonian terms are included in the numerical integrations, may also help understand the production of NEOs on retrograde orbits.

    post-Newtonian = Using GR in numerical integrations?

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Happy

    Can't comment on trans-Pluto objects

    But was very pleased to be able to show the missus Mercury, Venus and Mars as naked eye objects in the sky tonight, just after sunset.

    1. earl grey
      Trollface

      Re: Can't comment on trans-Pluto objects

      If you pick the right time you can show her Uranus.

    2. Number6

      Re: Can't comment on trans-Pluto objects

      Sorry, no naked eyes (or any other body part) are allowed around the Sun any more. They stopped all that.

      One has to be careful where one puts heavenly bodies now.

  7. beast666

    Sky surveys

    With all the wide-angle/frequent surveys of the sky, why haven't said objects been observed already?

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: Sky surveys

      They would be very faint, and move VERY slowly with respect to the stars. Most big surveys are looking for faster-moving objects (NEOs will mmove a lot faster than trans-Neptune objects)

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Sky surveys

      The thing about lumps of cold rock are that they are black, And the thing about space, the colour of space, your basic space colour, is black. So how are you supposed to see them?

      And a whole generation of el' reg readers are now too young to get this

      1. Richard Ball

        Re: Sky surveys

        It's cold outside...

        1. tony2heads

          @Richard Ball

          there's no kind of atmosphere

      2. EvanPyle

        Re: Sky surveys

        I'm to young but it rings a bell, something about black holes

        1. Mpeler
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Sky surveys

          And though the holes were rather small,

          They couldn't find them all.....

          Paris...because she's looking too...

      3. dan1980

        Re: Sky surveys

        On frequent repeat over here - right now (well, at night) in fact.

      4. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Sky surveys

        "So how are you supposed to see them?"

        Occlusion?

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Sky surveys

          @Sir Runcible Spoon

          And what will they occlude? Unless they just happen to wander in front of Kepler (which looks at the same chunk of sky all the time) we could go centuries before accidentally spotting them. From our reference point they don't really move all that much, and we're constantly repointing every telescope we have to look at all the interesting things out there.

          Humanity, in general, doesn't do a whole lot of "pointing a 'scope at the sky and just waiting for something interesting to stumble across." We set out on missions to find specific things in specific places. And unless you get a NEOWISE-style set of scopes to ring the Earth and just stare at fixed points (Kepler style), goof effing luck relying on occlusion.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon

            Re: Sky surveys

            Hi Trevor, I didn't say it was a practical solution, but it could work.

            These objects won't move too much, but we dart about fairly quickly. There are plenty of starts out there to occlude. It might not be quick, and it won't be cheap, but it could work.

      5. cray74

        Re: Sky surveys

        "And a whole generation of el' reg readers are now too young to get this"

        I'm probably not too young, but I admit I missed the reference and am curious of its origins.

  8. Neal Stephenson
    Thumb Up

    Float on

    Great news for Astrologers, the extra planets should make their predictions even more accurate

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Float on

      Having known some Astrologers they will claim all the wrong predictions where due to those planets and now let us predict again. I am, sort of, fond of one who for my paying wife predicted I would not belive him at all. But then again I knew some wacuum cleaner guys too.

  9. Mike Flugennock
    Alien

    This is NOT good news AT ALL...

    ...when you consider what happened last time:

    http://youtu.be/9jqq02i1i9Y?t=14m

  10. Ken Mitchell

    Of the three IAU criteria for a "planet" - orbits the Sun, spherical shape, and has cleared its orbit - the third would be almost impossible to demonstrate for Kuiper Belt objects. Heck, not even the Earth really qualifies, given all of the Earth-orbit-crossing asteroids that have been discovered since then. No matter how large such a planet might be, the volume of its orbital space is no doubt filled with other minor bodies following similar orbits.

    So, until the IAU reverses itself, there will never be any more "planets" discovered. Dwarf plants by the dozens are likely.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      "and has cleared its orbit" vs. "Earth-orbit-crossing asteroids"

      So unless one of these asteroids decide to pull into our lane, I reckon Earth is still a planet :)

  11. adam 40

    Mianus!

    Found at last....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mianus!

      Well it's about time you pulled your head out.....

  12. Graham Marsden
    Terminator

    Is one of them...

    ... called Mondas?

    (Terminator, because there's no Cyberman icon!)

  13. Bunbury

    Theoretical limit

    Given that most stars start as clouds of gas and dust is there any theoretical limit as to how far a star system may stretch?

    Presumably, further out with much longer orbits one would expect a 'less mature' environment as there may not have been sufficient iterations of orbits to clear out the orbit of debris,etc. But is there a theory limit that says given the age of the solar system and the numbers of close encounters with other stars any material as far out as x would have likely been lost? Or that escape velocity is so trivial that everything will drift away?

    Or is it all minor planets and assorted crud until you get to the next star?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Theoretical limit

      There's a fairly well defined point at which the solar wind ceases to be supersonic. I think that's the official edge. Outside of that, you can argue that you've left the region of space where the Sun dominates the physical environment.

      1. Osgard Leach

        Re: Theoretical limit

        Don't underestimate Rupert Murdoch mate. I bet when we get out there we'll find the Suns influence is just as strong as it is down here. Lowest common denominator, White Rocket Man schlock always sells.

      2. Bunbury

        Re: Theoretical limit

        Supersonic? Surely, in space nobody can hear your wind?

  14. Dave in the States
    Holmes

    My theory is...

    Dark Matter!!

    It is used to explain other gravitational anomalies, so why not here?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My theory is...

      Because "diffuse dark matter halo enveloping the galaxy" is very unlike "earth-mass point masses in orbit around the sun", Einstein.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        Re: My theory is...

        A Dark Matter Black Hole - hard to see with al those black cats in a coal hole

  15. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    Persephone

    aka Rupert. Perhaps we should send New Horizons by there to peek in on the Grebulons?

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