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The Heavenly Body

4 posts in this topic

A Havent found any posts that truley discuss this Object. what could this object have been something this large and its possibey in our solar system. any of you Pros got any asumptions.

Washington Post

Mystery Heavenly Body Discovered, a front page story


A heavenly body possibly as large as the giant planet Jupiter and possibly so close to Earth that it would be part of this solar system has been found in the direction of the constellation Orion by an orbiting telescope aboard the U.S. infrared astronomical satellite. So mysterious is the object that astronomers do not know if it is a planet, a giant comet, a nearby "protostar" that never got hot enough to become a star, a distant galaxy so young that it is still in the process of forming its first stars or a galaxy so shrouded in dust that none of the light cast by its stars ever gets through. "All I can tell you is that we don't know what it is," Dr. Gerry Neugebauer, IRAS chief scientist for California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and director of the Palomar Observatory for the California Institute of Technology said in an interview.

The most fascinating explanation of this mystery body, which is so cold it casts no light and has never been seen by optical telescopes on Earth or in space, is that it is a giant gaseous planet, as large as Jupiter and as close to Earth as 50 billion miles. While that may seem like a great distance in earthbound terms, it is a stone's throw in cosmological terms, so close in fact that it would be the nearest heavenly body to Earth beyond the outermost planet Pluto. "If it is really that close, it would be a part of our solar system," said Dr. James Houck of Cornell University's Center for Radio Physics and Space Research and a member of the IRAS science team. "If it is that close, I don't know how the world's planetary scientists would even begin to classify it."

The mystery body was seen twice by the infrared satellite as it scanned the northern sky from last January to November, when the satellite ran out of the supercold helium that allowed its telescope to see the coldest bodies in the heavens. The second observation took place six months after the first and suggested the mystery body had not moved from its spot in the sky near the western edge of the constellation Orion in that time. "This suggests it's not a comet because a comet would not be as large as the one we've observed and a comet would probably have moved," Houck said. "A planet may have moved if it were as close as 50 billion miles but it could still be a more distant planet and not have moved in six months time.

Whatever it is, Houck said, the mystery body is so cold its temperature is no more than 40 degrees above "absolute" zero, which is 459 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. The telescope aboard IRAS is cooled so low and is so sensitive it can "see" objects in the heavens that are only 20 degrees above absolute zero. When IRAS scientists first saw the mystery body and calculated that it could be as close as 50 billion miles, there was some speculation that it might be moving toward Earth. "It's not incoming mail," Cal Tech's Neugebauer said. "I want to douse that idea with as much cold water as I can."

A pic from the original news article

user posted image

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Hey, Akuma

It looks like no one has followed up on your inquiry. I'll give you my two cents.

I have recently put up several posts on the topic of closely interacting galaxies. IN the process of preparing and resizing an image for the web, I have to look fairly closely at them. The first reason is I occasionally point out a cluster or nebula, and I have to be sure that it is not a background point source or what only appears to be a nebula.

A distant galaxy sometimes frustrates me, and I just have to declare it an unknown, and move on. Only with a lot of diligence do I resolve such things. I move on, because even an astronomer would not arbitrarily guess at something.

My feeling is that many things have been discovered, and then undiscovered. The latter is usually less touted, but it comes out, sooner or later that someone has data to revise an earlier supposition. Confirmation by other astronomers, or second observations, is important to fixing constraints on the initial findings.

The IRAS primary mirror was .57 meter. Spitzer Space Telescope is .9 meter. Hubble Telescope is just under 3 meters (if I remember). And the largest is Keck Infrared Telescope, at 10 meters.

What does it take to resolve something in the Kuiper Belt? The article you cited mentioned a distance that is at the outer edge of the Belt- 50 billion miles. The farthest object I know of, and the largest to be found and confirmed through multiple images, and shown orbiting the Sun, is 2003UB-313. It is really only slightly larger in diameter than Pluto, by 60 or 70 kilometers.

2003UB-313 was imaged by a 48-inch ground telescope multiple times, and seen crossing the sky. It was also more clearly resolved, to the point of revealing a companion moon.

That was using the 10 meter Keck Telescope, in Hawaii.

Have others acted a little in haste, by declaring a possible distant planet beyond Pluto?

Maybe not, because they know time will tell. But the newspapers have a deadline, and often run with what they have.

By the way, this does not comment on various theories. But, I will say this. I am currently of the opinion that our sun is not binary. Any companion was possibly larger, IMO, and would have already evolved beyond main sequence, and possibly even to supernova. So, I tentatively rule out a companion star.

Also, any large Jupiter-class planet would have no chance to form beyond the general orbit of the current gas planets. Solar nebulae are amazingly fast to evolve, and planets the size we are familiar with are made in the thick of things. Dwarf planets, like Pluto and those KBOs have less chance, because there is less material out there, and not as much density and action.

So, that could put constraints on KBO mass, and certainly raise my doubts about a frozen gas giant (a hundred times the mass of Pluto).

And, like I said, there are certainly many astronomers with their own ideas about things.

My own take is that the Kuiper Belt may be larger, but less dense then would allow for large numbers of these objects, and probably no significant planets. I say that based on the discoveries that have been confirmed. They show a few objects, that are not especially massive, compared to the inner planets.

At least, that is my take.

Here is a sequence of images showing a moving body, later identified as UB2003-313.

Also, confirmation follow-ups by Keck Telescope (red colored, infrared) and Hubble Telescope (black and white, near infrared), of this largest known KBO to date. :hmm: IMO




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Posted (edited)


The comparisons between IRAS, Spitzer, Hubble and Keck are a little deceptive. Hubble and Keck are both primarily optical telescopes capable of seeing objects in the near infra-red. However Spitzer and IRAS were specifically designed to operate in infra red wavelengths which are absorbed by the earths atmosphere and hence are invisible to Keck.

IRAS was also cooled to extremely low temperatures using liquid helium (its mission ended when the helium ran out). Spitzer is also cryogenically cooled (but I am unsure of the process used, except that it doesn't use liquid helum).

IRAS observed wavelengths of between 8 and 120 microns.Spitzer oberves wavelengths of between 3 and 180 microns.

Hubble has no such cooling and hence glows in many of the wavelengths visible to IRAS and Spitzer(it would be rather like painting the inside of an optical telescopes tube with bright, fluorescent paint). As a result IRAS was able to see far cooler objects than are visible to Hubble or Keck (regardless of resolution).

I agree with you that the sun is not a binary. I doubt it ever was. However if it had a companion in the past that had gone supernova we would certainly know about it. The earth (and all the planets) would still show evidence of the products of the explosion in our geology. Given that a supernova within 50 ly can produce a blast of gamma rays that would sterilise the earth of all life it is debatable whether we would be here at all.


Getting back to the 1983 story on the "planet", I did a search at the time that the initial post was made and found virtually nothing (apart from repeats of the original story). The fact that nothing has come of this in 23 years lead me to conclude that it wasn't a planet, and it wasn't close to the sun but having no evidence I intended to look for some more before I posted. I promptly forgot.

Today I did another search and found a little more.

Unfortunately the original post does not contain the whole article, notice at the end of the news paper scan that the article is continued on page A12 column 1. However in the missing part of the article Dr. Neugebauer said, "I believe it's one of these dark, young galaxies that we have never been able to observe before."

An analysis of the articl by Bill Owen at his Planet X website can be found: HERE (which is where I got the missing quote above). On this page: What did IRAS Find?, Owen tells us that,

According to Dr. Mike Dworetsky, Director University of London

Observatory, "The object in question was eventually identified as

a denser knot of "interstellar cirrus" in Taurus (not in Orion but a

bit to the west) while the other objects the team were interested

in were identified as infra-red-bright galaxies."

"The object was designated as 0412+085 in Houck J.R. et al,

Astrophysical Journal Letters vol 278, p L63, 1984 and

reported as infrared cirrus in Houck, J.R. et al, Astrophysical

Journal Letters vol 290, p. L5, 1985. The other objects, as the

article stresses, were identified as very faint galaxies."

So it wasn't a large planet, but an interstellar dust cloud. I hope that has cleared things up.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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So it wasn't a large planet, but an interstellar dust cloud. I hope that has cleared things up.

Thanks you both of you guys i appreciate the fact that both of you put some time into looking at this phenomena and in turn clearing up the question.

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