The sun might seem like a pretty huge galactic blind spot, but we've already managed to glimpse behind it, and there's nothing there in the way of another Earth, says NASA scientist Michael Kaiser, "unless it's awfully tiny."
Kaiser is the project scientist for NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission, which in 2006 sent two golf-cart-size satellites into orbit around the sun to study the explosions on the solar surface that are a major factor in space weather. A few months after their launch, the two probes were angled such that they could see beyond the sun, but they found no planets lurking behind the big star.
Even if we couldn't see behind the sun, the gravitational pull of a roughly 100-mile-wide planet hiding there would noticeably affect the orbits of the other planets. And if astronomers had somehow missed that detail, Kaiser says, an unaccounted-for tug of gravity in the solar system would have disrupted the orbit of man-made satellites circling the Earth or interfered with intra-solar-system spacecraft. That hasn't happened, so unless beings on a hidden planet have invented both an invisibility cloak and a gravity-masking device, the other side of the sun is almost certainly just empty space.
This article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue of Popular Science magazine.
Behind the sun? This article is tempting me to use a lot of profanity. We travel to the other side of the sun and back every year, what does behind the sun mean? Behind the sun with respect to earth? So like where the Earth would be half a year from now? Or on a different axis or what? All logic tells me is the sun doesn't have a front and behind... its pretty spherical and it rotates. Was this a search for a planet that maintains the exact orbit of earth but 180 degrees out of phase? Can someone please clarify how the sun could have "sides" and where "the other side of the sun" is?
I'm guessing that what they mean is it revolves at the same speed as the earth but stays on the exact opposite side of the sun. Therefore, it is perpetually out of normal sight for earth. But, that's just how I read and understood it. you're right they didn't do a very good job of clarifying...
The first think in my mind when i read topic was.. the chances of having a planet moving at exact same speed as us on opposite side of the sun where we would never see it, Moving same speed same axis, etc. seems like an impossibility. There is better odds of winning the lottery..
Yea this article seems to be a bit on the goofy side to me. :) But hey, i guess you never know!!
One thing people need to realize about PopSci is that these are not scientific articles. It's similar to, say, a CNN reporter writing an article on a scientific discovery; these are written by journalists, not scientists.
That having been said, this article does seem kind of pointless... Why bother debunking a theory about a hidden planet synchronized with earth's orbit, when nobody thinks that anyhow? You may as well write an article to show that the earth isn't flat.
Lighten up. I bash PS pretty regularly, but this was not a bad article.
Yes, behind the sun -- referenced to the way it's positioned vs our beloved Earth. Not many of us will ever see it from any other coordinates.
As for why. The hidden planet has been speculated about through the ages. Probably mainly in fiction, but it has been discussed. Now we have reasonably solid evidence that no such planet exists. It's worth a few paragraphs.
Behind the sun simply means in an antipodal orbit to our own. This is from a few Old Old theorems that had no real scientific basis, but have had a long and popular life in some circles.
The use the term "other side of the sun" because very few people know what the term Antipodal means.
Hey can i write for pospci too? i got this great idea for an artical about the earth being round and not flat!!!
Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to go "behind the Sun". It looked for such an antipodal planet and found none. A couple of movies based on a speculated counter-Earth are "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun" (1969) and "The Stranger" (1973).
Thanks for clearing that up lol
There is no planet X and we already figure this out with nasa's probs. Kinda a waste of time with this article... but i guess if there was,This article would have been more intresting.
As it happens - if you do not wash your hands - the sensor would track you. If you can't write a worthwhile comment, why write one at all ? My brother invented HyGreen and I am very proud of him. He's done more to save lives then any of you big mouths. So in my case Big Brother is watching whether I wash my hands.
I just heard this sky-is-falling fear theory of a planet hiding behind the sun. I must be slow to hear these things, but now I have. I am astounded at the amount of people on our planet who buy into these concepts. If a planet was Antipodal all these years, how would it suddenly speed up and show itself from behind the sun? I'm still waiting for the planets to align and pull the earth from it's orbit. Oh yeah, it didn't happen. And, the end of the world a couple of months ago. Still waiting for that one too. Just facts and science please, the truth is stunning enough! the truth is there are giant plates that rub against each other on our planet and nuclear plants should not be built on the ocean next to these plates. Isn't anyone in Japan's Nuclear dept. smarter than a 5th grader.. Now, that's something to worry about. Oh, it happened!!
well i guess we dont have to worry bout stuperman either.
I am quite amazed at how many people joke about the concept of there being a planet behind the sun. I too heard about this planet and decided to take a photograph of the sun with a small digital camera, and the images were eye-opening.
There is definitely a planet behind the sun, together with a satellite planet and I have the images to prove it. I have been taking images of the sun for +- 3 years, and find it amazing that there is no media coverage of this.
Click on the link below to view some of the images that I have taken. Evidence speaks volumes.
All these measurements of gravity yet we still don't know for certain the speed at which gravity propagates?
Seems so strange to me.
I hope gravity propagates instantaneously and not at the speed of light. Because that would open up the possibility for instant deep space communications. Also, it might help link gravity to quantum physics.
gnoeld: As mentioned on your own blogpost, those are lens flares NOT a planet. There is a ton of things wrong with your theory. First, that would be a large star, not a planet as it would have to be a lot bigger than the sun.
Next, the only way for it to remain hidden from us is if it shared our orbit, but was at the exact opposite side of the sun. This would make it impossible to take a picture of it from Earth.
Also, as mentioned in the article, even an object significantly smaller than our moon would have a noticeable effect gravitationally. Something of that size would have a gigantic impact on the solar system. We're talking multiple planets being ejected from the solar system, others crashing into the sun, the asteroid field would be broken up. These aren't small changes that could go unnoticed.
Another thing is that the planet wouldn't grow and shrink like it does in your pictures.
Finally, it would glow extremely brightly at night. We're talking brighter than the full moon thanks to its size. Even Jupiter, which is extremely far away, and still much smaller than the sun ( and therefore this alleged planet ) is extremely bright and obvious at night. If this thing existed, I'd be outside right now looking at with one of my telescopes.
Now, to the other posters: Besides the previously mentioned lens flares causing rumors of this planet...there's also scientific evidence for the possibility ( before we were able to rule it out. ) There is a semi-stable point on the other side of the sun where gravity balances out nicely. Such points are called Lagrangian points, and for a 3 body system there are 5 such points. The one in questions, L3, however...is not entirely stable due to the other planets. An object could exist there for a time, but it could not have been there long. Again, we have also specifically looked at this point and found absolutely nothing.
Bloo-Mahrz: Sorry, but we are pretty certain that the speed of gravity is exactly the speed of light. To be any different would require General Relativity to be wrong. Still technically possible, but absolutely all of the evidence we have ever managed to gather, says General Relativity is right.
More importantly to your hopes though: We are especially sure that the speed of gravity is at least not infinite. Measurements just don't allow this.
Quantum Mechanics sorta solves your wish for deep space communications though. Entangled particles can react instantly. The catch is that you first have to get one of the particles to the destination at below the speed of light. So, you do really need some form of FTL to get the communication equipment to other location. After you've done that though, you can freely communicate as if there was no distance.
Curious Question! That is why you clicked on the link!
Of course you knew the answer before you clicked. The comments are usually funny too. Must be Obama's or Dee's fault like everything else.
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
the article is refering to a planet with the same orbit as earth traveling at the same pace. Subsquently, always being in a blind spot. ... pretty easy to understand, what happened to common sense? ....
Aaaaanyways, i like to listen to Coast to Coast when i work the night shift. So i'd like to think that i'm fairly upto speed on conspiracy theories.
Planet X is Nibiru ... according to what the tin foil hat club says, Wonder is right about the proposed 3,600 year orbit.
oddly enough, i found a few of their (CTC) news stories broke way ahead of the curve. they have broken news several weeks before mainstream media.
Easiest way to check for another planet is to send a probe into earth's orbit and send it in the opposite direction. or fix a probe in a Lagrange point. and let it watch what floats past.
its like someone watched the.. Lexx scifi series :D
Also... its just as stupid as the "dark side of the moon" - it isnt permanently dark at all.. .WE just dont see that side from earth.
Maybe next we can argue about whether there are dinosaurs living in the center of the Earth...
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What a pointless article....!
There was a comic strip back in the '50s, named 'Twin Earths" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Earths_%28comic_strip%29}
One newspaper that carried the strip was 'The Newark News' (NJ). It lasted several years. -ph
Yes, yes, all well and fine. We get it--an object at least 100 miles in diameter would disrupt stuff and be recognizable as "being there". But what about a space ship? A really big one about a mile or less in size? A proverbial mother ship? Or even two? Or five? That would not register, surely.