Thursday, July 25, 2013

New planet messing around with our comets and stuff

Predicted on the basis of weird things happening to comets in the neighborhood, a long-hypothesized 10th-now-9th planet, Tyche, has eluded observation so far. However, scientists are now getting closer to nailing it down. While this presumed gas giant is believed to have a mass 4 times that of Jupiter, which would make it 1268 times as massive as Earth (might explain why it's hiding), it is also believed to be 15,000 AU (earth-sun distance) away from the the Sun. Compare that to former planet Pluto, which is a mere 39 AU from the sun, and you can understand why we have trouble sticking an astronomical pin into it. Unfortunately, it may have been nicked from another star, so we might soon have to rename it "Exhibit A". Seriously, if our sun is going to steal stuff, at least it could have stolen something that could be surreptitiously tucked into its Kuiper Belt, instead of something with a comet-deflecting gravity well.

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