Xena's Bright Surface: What's going on?

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by andy lloyd, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. andy lloyd Registered Member

    For some time astronomers have been finding new minor planets beyond Pluto, in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt. Many of these objects have exhibited unusual properties, and anomalous orbital patterns. I favour the presence of a very massive planet lurking in the darkness beyond Pluto to explain this growing list of anomalies.

    Now, quite a few of the astronomers who actually hunt for these objects have noticed the pattern I’ve been arguing for. And they have hesitantly suggested something massive might be the cause of the strange behaviour of the newly-discovered minor planets. But, knowing how crazy that sounds to normal folk, they have quickly added that such an object cannot be there anymore, so must have been a companion at the time of the Sun’s birth that was subsequently lost. In other words, they have suggested that a long-gone Dark Star companion once existed which set the minor planets into their crazy little dances which we are now observing.

    I’ve continued to argue that the companion is still present, waiting to be discovered. And now a piece of evidence has emerged which suggests this very possibility.

    One of the minor planets, dubbed ‘Xena’, is about the same size as Pluto. It was recently imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. Oddly, it has a very, very bright and reflective surface. For an object which always remains more distant than Pluto, this is highly irregular, and it has the astronomers baffled. Over time it should have become dusty and grey, rather than icy and white.

    For some reason, its surface is being replenished over time. Yet it is too distant to undergo cometary activity, and too small to generate enough internal heat to boil out liquid from inside itself. The properties of Xena are just like a small moon orbiting around a massive gas giant. Yet Xena is on its own, in the cold expanse of the space beyond Pluto. So the image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope makes no sense.

    Unless, that is, you allow for the presence of a massive object out there which Xena periodically encounters. Under those circumstances, the nature of its surface features becomes readily explainable: As Xena approaches what would have to be a Dark Star, it begins to act like a comet, boiling up inside and shedding water and other volatiles onto its surface and out into space. This would then account for its current bright appearance.

    The reason why this moves us forward is that this process must be current and on-going. A long-gone Dark Star could not account for the current high reflectivity of Xena’s surface. One should still be out there. The following link has explanatory graphics to help develop this argument:


    The real question is: Where is it? It's effect is measurable. Its presence has yet to be determined directly.
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  3. 2inquisitive The Devil is in the details Registered Senior Member

    Why do you think the astronomers are 'baffled'? Have you read CalTech's hypothesis explaining UB313's surface reflectivity? Do you think that further observation of Gabrielle's orbit might reveal perturbations caused by gravitational encounters with your 'Dark Star'?
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  5. Lensman Registered Senior Member

    You have piled speculation on top of supposition. If much or most of the Oort cloud is ice, why would any iceball out there become coated with something gray? We know perfectly well that icy bodies vary in density. Likely the planetoid nicknamed "Xena" (not its real name) just has somewhat more ice in its makeup than does Pluto; likely Pluto has more dirt and dust.

    There's a perfectly logical explanation for periodic disturbance of cometary bodies in the Oort cloud, no "Nemesis" need apply. Sol, our sun, bobs up and down in the plane of the Milky Way galaxy in a period of IIRC about 23 million years. That alone should be quite sufficient to perturb some comets; and if not, there's passage thru the galactic magnetic field to consider.
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  7. andy lloyd Registered Member

    Thanks for the replies, and these are good points. My article builds upon Dr Mike Brown's own press release, picked up by New Scientist.

    New Scientist "Tenth planet as bright as fresh snow" 12th April 2006 http://www.newscientistspace.com/article/dn8985-tenth-planet-as-bright-as-fresh-snow.html

    In this article, Mike Brown expresses his puzzlement as to why 'Xena' is so bright, as high in reflectivity as Enceladus, which we now know has a replenished surface due to the action of Saturn's gravity. He wonders why an object like Xena which is so far out beyond neptune should have a similar reflectivity. Other Kuiper Belt Objects do not, as they accumluate dust onto their surfaces over time.

    It should also be noted that several leading outer solar system astronomers, including Mike Borwn himslef, but also Hal Leison, have speculated about the existence of a companion long ago. I stress that they do not consider it at all likely that one exists onw (although I do), but they have argued the case for such an object during the course of the early solar system because of the growing number of anolaies in the Kuiper Belt. Like the Kuiper Gap, and the anomalous orbits of several scattered disc objects, like Sedna and 2000CR105.

    Other astronomers have tried to explain the Gap by comparing the shape of our Kuiper Belt to that of proto-planetary discs, and found that it most closely resembles discs where companions are present. I have catalogued these papers, and the speculations which have come out of them, in my book 'Dark Star', and mention this here only because such claims inevitably lead to the request for these references. I assure you this is real science, and I am simply reporting the growing case for such a companion. I sense a growing excitement amongst academic researchers regarding the potential for a new planet out there, an excitement which they share more in the discussion parts of their papers than in press releases. This is one of the reasons I decided to write a book on the subject in the first place, to bring this potential into the open.

    Xena's surface is simply the latest in a series of oddities. Each taken on its own is dismissable - not because the case for it is explainable readily, but because it can be put aside as being a temporary puzle - but taken together a picture is building which is at odds with our current model of the nature of the outer solar system.

    I hink SIRTF and WISE will come up with some big surprises! I don't think we'll have the classical 'Nemesis' object discussed by Muller et al, but a closer, more influential object more akin to Jupiter.

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