NASA’s WISE Survey Fails to Spot ‘Planet X’

First Posted: Mar 08, 2014 06:16 AM EST

NASA confirmed that astronomers failed to find evidence of 'Planet X' during the examination of the WISE data that scanned hundreds of millions of objects across the sky.

In a latest announcement the space agency claims that  after searching for millions of objects across the sky using the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), the hypothesized celestial body 'Planet X' has not been found in our solar system.

Astronomers earlier theorized about the presence of a large celestial object dubbed 'Planet X' believed to be present beyond Pluto's orbit. This supposed celestial body is also known as 'Nemesis' and 'Tyche'.

Examination of  the vast WISE data failed to trace any evidence of a cosmic object similar to the ringed planet Saturn in size or even larger in size lying at a distance of 10,000 astronomical units (au). In the WISE data no object larger than Jupiter was found to exit at 26,000 au.

One astronomical unit is equal to 93 million miles. Our home planet is 1 au and Pluto is 40 au from the Sun.

"The outer solar system probably does not contain a large gas giant planet, or a small, companion star," said Kevin Luhman of the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds at Penn State University, University Park, Pa..

But analysis of the WISE data didn't end up in a big disappointment as they found thousands of stars and cool bodies called brown dwarfs lying beyond our solar system.

"Neighboring star systems that have been hiding in plain sight just jump out in the WISE data," said Ned Wright of the University of California, Los Angeles, the principal investigator of the mission.

The second part of the study focused on these objects lying in our Sun's backyard. They found a total of 3,525 stars and brown dwarfs that were within 500 light years of our Sun.

"We're finding objects that were totally overlooked before," said Davy Kirkpatrick of NASA's Infrared and Processing Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.  Kirkpatrick is the lead author of the second paper, also in the Astrophysical Journal. Some of these 3,525 objects were found in the Luhman study, which catalogued 762 objects.

WISE is in operation since 2010 and has captured nearly 750 million asteroids, galaxies and stars.  Some of the well known searches of WISE include the discovery of a star located 20 light years away in the constellation Norma, a pair of brown dwarfs 6.5 light years away, the closest star system identified in a century.

The finding was produced in Astrophysical Journal.

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