Archive | Friday, 18:22, December 10, 2010

Evolution: How We Know It Happened & Why It Matters (w/Dr. Donald Prothero | 106 mins, 56 secs)


The Tyche Hypothesis

The gas giants against the Sun's limb, at 1 px...

Image via Wikipedia

There’s been some recent research suggesting the possibility of a planet at the outer edge of the solar system that could be as massive as up to four Jupiters put together, and could explain the periodic rain of comets into the inner solar system… impacts which could have caused mass extinctions in Earth’s history.

It’s suspected to be rather cold, and thus difficult to spot in the infrared, but not impossible, and is thought to lie perhaps at about 30,000 times the distance from Earth to the Sun, itself a mean of 93 million miles.

This hypothetical world, dubbed ‘Tyche’ rather than ‘Nemesis,’ to distinguish it from an earlier theory, could gravitationally disturb the orbits of comets, hurling them our way, and this might additionally explain the elongation of the orbits of dwarf planets, and about two hundred years-worth of other anomalies.

It’s unlikely that these anomalies are just a statistical artifact, one of those involved in the study published in the journal Icarus, has suggested.

The infrared sensors of the WISE telescope might be our best chance of seeing this planet.

This almost reminds me of an old SF manga during the 80s, that had a story about the discovery of a giant planet at the edge of the system named Lucifer, presumably because by that time, the astronomical community had run out of Greco-Roman names to give planetary bodies.

It would be cool if we discovered such a world, and it might answer a lot of what are now open questions in astronomy and astrophysics.

Gods of Lovecraft…science is so cool.