Tyche: A New Planet Bigger Than Jupiter?

What’s all the fuss about new planets? As reported in The Huffington Post, “We may have lost Pluto , but it looks like we might be getting Tyche.” There’s a movement afoot to start including the lesser, dwarf planets as well as this new gas giant (which technically may not belong to our solar system at all!) that astronomers have named “Tyche.”

According to astrophysicists John Matese and Daniel Whitmire from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, who first proposed Tyche’s existence in order to explain a change in path of comets entering the solar system, scientists are close to proving the existence of this hidden planet.

From the The Independent :

Tyche will almost certainly be made up mostly of hydrogen and helium and will probably have an atmosphere much like Jupiter’s, with colourful spots and bands and clouds, Professor Whitmire said. “You’d also expect it to have moons. All the outer planets have them,” he added.

So how could we have missed such a massive planet in our own solar system? Well, it’s 15,000 times further from the sun than Earth, according to Gizmodo . Tyche (if it does exist) lies in the Oort cloud, the outer shell of asteroids in our solar system.

Despite what the scientists believe they will find in the data (which will be released in April and was collected by NASA Wise space telescope), there is at least one flaw in their theory. Theoretically, a planet of Tyche’s size should seriously disturb comets in the inner Oort Cloud, but that effect is yet to have been observed, according to The Independent . But even if it does exist, it still may not be deemed a planet.

From Gizmodo :

If its existence is finally confirmed, its Solar System planet status may not be guaranteed. The reason: Astronomers theorize that Tyche could be a planet born in another star system and captured by ours.

As the HuffPost notes, “If we’ve missed a planet in our own solar system for this long, what else are we missing?

by Staff