Exposing PseudoAstronomy

February 18, 2009

Planet X and 2012: Could Planet X Be a Planet Around a Binary Star to Our Own – a “Dark Star?”


This will likely be one of my last posts on 2012 and Planet X in the near future. I’ve been waiting awhile on an interview I sent out to a Mayan scholar but he has yet to get back to me. It may have been because my questions were too long, but we’ll see. If he does, I will be certain to post his take on what the current scholarship is in regards to what the Mayans actually thought about their calendar and 2012 (on our calendar).

This post, however, is about Andy Lloyd’s (not “Andrew” – I just don’t want you to think I’m using a derogatory nickname) ideas on Planet X. And to be honest, they make a lot more sense than most.

All posts in this series:

Andy’s Premise

Andy runs his “Dark Star” website where he advocates his various conspiracy theories and other ideas. He also has a BSc in Chemistry which may be why his “Dark Star” premise (not “theory”) is more plausible than others: He actually seems to have taken actual astronomy into account.

Andy is an advocate of a modified idea of Zecharia Sitchin – the man who thinks he’s decoded Summerian texts that prove a race of aliens called the Anunnaki came from the Planet X, Nibiru, to mine our gold. However, he was dissatisfied with Sitchin’s ideas because they didn’t make sense in an astronomical context: How could Earth-like intelligent life survive on a planet that goes from the frigid outer solar system where it’s maybe -220 °C to the inner solar system where it’s closer to 300 °C? It doesn’t make sense.

So Andy proposes a modification: The sun is in a binary star system – it has a gravitationally bound companion star. Only, this companion star is a brown dwarf, a type of failed star that never gained enough mass to start fusing hydrogen into helium as normal stars do. This brown dwarf star is the one that has a highly eccentric orbit (as many binary star systems do) that brings it from the outer solar system to the inner solar system. And, orbiting around that star is Nibiru, home of the alien race of Anunnaki.

How this Solves Problems

It really beautifully solves a few major problems of Sitchin’s ideas. First, it solves the temperature problem. While a brown dwarf star is not a star that produces heat through fusion, it does produce heat through gravitational contraction. A planet that orbits the star sufficiently closely could conceivably be Earth-like, getting enough heat to bring temperatures near the triple point of water (where water can exist as a solid, liquid, or gas).

In addition, Andy doesn’t think that it has anything to do with 2012. He rightfully knows that a planet (or star) in a regular orbit cannot go from the outer solar system to the inner solar system in just 4 years. Granted, he believes that it’s come close in the past and has delivered its alien cargo and the populace is responsible for lots of things on Earth, but he at least does not in any way connect it with 2012.

He also places its location in the constellation Sagittarius. For those of you not intimately familiar with the night sky, Sagittarius is a rather large constellation that is visible during the summer in the northern hemisphere. Part of it looks like a teapot. But another feature of it is that the core of the Milky Way stretches through Sagittarius, making it one of the richest areas of the sky to look at nebulae, star clusters, and other objects … making it very difficult to search for a small, faint, red object. This – at least to his reckoning – answers the question of why we haven’t found it yet.

Is This Falsifiable? Is This Provable? Are We in Danger?

A problem with his idea that I hinted at in the previous paragraph is that it really still is unlikely that we would not have found a binary companion if it’s really gravitationally bound to the sun (as it is in his hypothesis). A brown dwarf would be one of the brightest infrared sources in the sky (infrared can be thought of as “heat” light). He cites the fact that there is no complete infrared sky survey and so there’s still a chance that his dark star could be in the gaps.

But while there is no one complete sky survey, there are several different infrared sky surveys that do cover pretty much all the gaps. And the ecliptic – the plane of the solar system that passes through Sagittarius – has been thoroughly imaged in high-resolution in searches for solar system objects. While it’s possible that we may have missed an object like a brown dwarf star within our solar system, the likelihood is practically nil.

Which brings us to falsifiability. Andy recognizes that his hypothesis is testable and can be shown wrong by just looking for the object and not finding it. Conversely, it’s obviously provable by finding it. However, since Andy harps on the the IRAS (InfraRed Astronomy Satellite) from the 1980s and does not acknowledge more recent surveys (such as 2MASS, the 2 Micron All-Sky Survey), I am not certain how genuine he is when stating that he would readily accept that he was shown to be wrong.

Rather, he seems to be of the mind that once his condition is met (which it really has), he will either not acknowledge it or will say something along the lines of, “Yes, but it could still be possible because of [fill in the blank].” This is a moving the goalpost logical fallacy (commonly employed by conspiracy theorists and creationists – every fossil just creates two more holes).

Final Thoughts

So what’s the bottom-line here – does Andy’s “Dark Star” with its orbiting gold thieves exist? In the interest of academic honesty, I have to say, “possibly.” But it’s around the same likelihood that when the LHC becomes operational it will create a polka-dotted unicorn that farts out rainbows. Or for those of you who are Simpsons fans, perhaps it’ll make a twonicorn.

In other words, it’s very unlikely. It should be incredibly bright in red/infrared light. And that’s just addressing the astronomical aspects. All the other parts of the idea – the anomaly hunting within historic records – come up short in (a) plausibility, and (b) evidence. In my opinion, from the evidence (or lack-there-of), Andy Lloyd’s “Dark Star” is another failed Planet X premise.

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    Pingback by 2012hoax: Agpage — May 14, 2009 @ 10:17 am | Reply

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  4. Howdy :D I found this through 2012hoax.

    During the time the “Nemesis” “theory” (speculation, but good speculation IMHO) came around, all that was really known was that apparently an asteroid or comet had killed the dinosaurs and that there had been several mass extinctions in the Earth’s geological history. There was some evidence from comets themselves, notably that there were two classes, short and long period, the short period ones having a period of about 200 years and the long ones having aphelia that clustered around 50,000 A.U.

    Raup and Sepkoski pulled a period out of the mass extinctions of 26 million years, but there were problems there. For one thing, there are probably other causes for mass extinctions especially ones that didn’t fit the period. Also, a couple of times when the period indicated there should have been an extinction, there was none.

    Nemesis was invoked to explain the period. A 26 million year orbital period would be possible for a small star around the Sun, but not for the entire history of the Solar system. This was and is the chief objection to the hypothesis, it would be pulled away by some passing star.

    At the time, only three Kuiper belt objects (other than comets) were known: Pluto, it’s moon Charon, and Neptune’s moon Triton, which most astronomers believe is a captured object.

    Then detector technology improved. By now, over a thousand Kuiper belt objects are known. This is enough to try to see if there are any patterns there.

    One such pattern is that most of the objects orbit in roughly the plane of the ecliptic (actually probably the invarient plane, which is mostly set by Jupiter) but a significant population exists that has orbital inclinations of up to 45 degrees. Unfortunately there’s observational bias there, most searches have been in the invarient plane. That’s the “cold” classical population. Most members of the “hot” classical population were detected because they happened to be passing through the invarient plane. Some were caught by Mike Brown’s epic survey.

    It’s a strange situation. It’s like heating up half a cup of coffee without heating up the other half.

    Another feature of the Kuiper belt is that it is cut off at about 50 A.U. Though there are objects whose aphelia lie beyond that, nearly all of them have perihelia lying within that.

    We can see the Kuiper belts of other stars more easily than our own with infrared telescopes; ours is spread out over the entire sky. About half of stars have Kuiper belts that are flat and thin out slowly over a distance of about 200 A.U. The other group has cutoffs similar to our own Kuiper belt and look like fat bagels or donuts.

    The original Nemesis hypothesis had the object disturbing the Oort cloud of long-period comets, but the shape of our Kuiper belt seems to supply evidence that the closer and much denser Kuiper belt might have been disturbed by some object. I don’t have a telescope but I do have a popular program for simulating gravity. I have found that an object of as little as three Jupiter masses could disturb a simulated Kuiper belt to the extent seen in ours. I was surprised that one Jupiter mass was not enough. I did a 16 Jupiter mass simulation and it looked most like the real Kuiper belt.

    That serious objection, that such an object could not last the life of the Solar system, might be explained if the object was originally in a closer orbit, say, 100 A.U., and recently (~500 million years) got nearly pulled away by a passing star. Richard Muller dis some work dating droplets of cooled lava splashed from lunar impact craters that indicated a bombardment started around that time, but unfortunately his sample size was rather small.

    If such a stripped-down Nemesis exists, it will not stay hidden for long. Some time after or hopefully on December 7, 2009, NASA will launch the Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer. It’s 500 times as sensitive as earlier surveys, mostly through improved sensor technology. It will easily detect any such object. I think we’re looking for something between five and twenty five Jupiter masses, about one and a half light-years away, with a perihelion between 60 and 90 A.U. and an orbital inclination of up to 45 degrees.

    I cannot see, from the evidence that I have presented here, how it could be determined if there was some civilization around this substellar object. I have real strong doubts about that. Let me leave it at that.

    -Michael C. Emmert

    Comment by Michael C. Emmert — September 29, 2009 @ 9:29 pm | Reply

  5. [...] Planet X and 2012: Could Planet X Be a Planet Around a Binary Star to Our Own – a “Dark Star… [...]

    Pingback by Planet X and 2012: Proof Earth Is Not Experiencing a Pole Shift « Exposing PseudoAstronomy — July 1, 2010 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  6. [...] Planet X and 2012: Could Planet X Be a Planet Around a Binary Star to Our Own – a “Dark Star… [...]

    Pingback by Planet X and 2012: My Posts So Far « Exposing PseudoAstronomy — November 6, 2010 @ 12:12 am | Reply

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