The last twenty-four hours has brought yet more reports either supporting the notion of a super-Jovian trans-Neptunian gas giant, reviving the old Nemesis theory in a different form, or merely suggesting that such a planet might still be possible, however doubtful the proposition might appear.
To recap: John Matese and Daniel Whitmire, of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, submitted this paper, ten months ago, to ICARUS, suggesting that a super-Jovian object might be causing certain near-parabolic comets to enter the solar system at high angles of inclination. (This blog entry at Time.com incorrectly says that Matese and Whitmire are “writing in ICARUS.” They won’t be “writing in ICARUS” unless and until ICARUS actually publishes their submission.) A number of other astronomers have expressed doubt about their find, and pointed out that they are merely inferring this object from a number of deviating comets, and an average magnitude of deviation, that might not even be statistically significant.
That has not stopped the speculation, as these submissions from AccuWeather.com, Time.com, PC Magazine, and Universe Today indicate. But Mike Wall at Space.com has reported on a new twist on the old Nemesis theory (about a brown-dwarf star in orbit around the Sun and having a 26-million-year period, corresponding allegedly with “extinction-level events” in the fossil column). According to John Bochanski of Pennsylvania State University, the real Nemesis might not a brown dwarf in orbit around the Sun, but an M-type red dwarf passing close by the Sun. (The late Isaac Asimov used that premise in one of his novels in the 1980s.) Wall quotes Bochanski:
The probability of an M dwarf running into the sun is essentially zero. But if one just came close, it could still cause comet showers.
And according to Bochanski, out of 40,000 nearby M-type stars, 18 are in orbits that could in theory bring them close enough to earth, within a billion years, to dislodge a “shower” of comets from the hypothetical Oort cloud and send them falling toward the earth.
The real issue, as Peter Pachal of PC Magazine acknowledges, is that the Oort cloud cannot explain the behavior of every observed long-period comet in the solar system. Classic Oort cloud theory says that “galactic tides” cause comets to leave the Oort cloud and fall toward earth. Matese and Whitmire noticed several comets behaving in an unpredicated manner: they are falling in at the wrong time for “galactic tides,” and they are falling in at high angles of inclination that “galactic tides” would not produce.
But, as usual with conventional astronomers, they are not thinking out of the “box” that the conventional narrative sets up for all astronomers to work in. Nor do they reckon with many flaws in classic Oort cloud theory that even a new planet, or a red-dwarf passer-by, cannot explain:
- Near-parabolic comets always observed for the first time only, never the second or third time.
- Comet perihelions are random in direction. Therefore, they can’t all come from the one place in the sky where Planet Tyche, or a star called Nemesis, ought to be.)
- No comet has ever come in on a hyperbolic trajectory.
- The perihelions are far too precise for a Tyche or a Nemesis to have produced them. A “shower of comets” would be much more likely to swing wide of the mark.
Add to it that no conventional astronomer has yet proposed a satisfactory model for comet formation, and that the Oort cloud cannot explain “Jupiter’s family” or other “short period” comets (like Comet Halley, with its orbital period of 76 years). Granted, most astronomers would prefer to invoke the Kuiper Belt as a source of short-period comets. But the Oort cloud cannot even explain the long-period comets satisfactorily.
Once again: the simplest explanation is that all comets, of whatever period, formed from rock, mud and water ejected from earth in the breakout phase of the Global Flood. Neither Tyche nor Nemesis is necessary.
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