Does the Solar System Have Giant New Planet?

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Jupiter may have competition for the status as the solar system's biggest planet.
Jupiter may have competition for the status as the solar system's biggest planet. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user tonynetone

Pluto was so 2006. Meet Tyche, a possible new planet that may be hanging out on the outer edge of our solar system. 

John Matese and Daniel Whitmire of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette are causing a media frenzy with their claim that a gaseous object, estimated to be four times the mass of Jupiter, is within the sun’s gravitational field.  

The professors say evidence gathered by the NASA space telescope WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) will verify whether the planet exists. It is believed to be orbiting on the Oort Cloud in the outer reaches of the solar system.

The orbit of Tyche (pronounced ty-kee) would be 15,000 times farther from the sun than Earth. Matese and Whitmore say the space object is made up of hydrogen and helium, with an atmosphere similar to Jupiter’s.

The WISE telescope is currently in a polar orbit above Earth and its mission is to discover undetected cosmic objects. The telescope’s data will begin to be analyzed in April, and both Matese and Whitmore believe that in two years the data will reveal the presence of Tyche. "If it does, John and I will be doing cartwheels. And that's not easy at our age,” Whitmire said in an interview with The Independent.

Still, the International Astronomical Union would have the final word on whether Tyche is indeed the ninth planet.

Be part of the conversation, do you think “Tyche” exists?  

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Comments (2)

I have to take back the remark about dozens of suns, because the 15,000 astronomical units is only one fourth light year and Alpha Centauri is the closest star at 4 light years.
Its orbital period is 1.8 million years and it would move at 542mph.
Nonetheless, the fact that it is "swamped" by the pioneer acceleration by a factor of 30 times, it seems like a good way to revisit the pioneer anomaly, which is still unexplained, without the expense of a costly new experiment.

It seems to me that this object could not belong to the Sun,
with its location at 15,000AU. It could not possibly maintain its orbit because of the weak gravity from the Sun.The 'grip' is 30 times weaker than the pioneer anomaly (which is already the weakest measured value)
g9 = 0.03Ap = 2.6e-11m/ss
How could it possibly maintain its allegiance to the Sun? In that huge gap of 15,000 AU, there would probably be dozens of suns closer than that, ready to take over this putative ninth planet.
Has this been taken into consideration?
John Polasek