Comet data that has been collected for over a century suggests that a dark Jupiter sized object is lurking at the edge of the solar system, and may be hurling ice and dust chunks towards Earth.
Planetary scientist John Matese of the University of Louisiana explained that 10 years worth of data were added to the initial research to test the hypothesis. “Only now should we be able to falsify or verify that you could have a Jupiter-mass object out there.”
Matese, along with his colleague, Daniel Whitmire, think there is a hidden companion to the Sun in the Oort Cloud that is booting icy bodies into the inner solar system where they can be seen. New analysis of observations that have been made for the last hundred-plus years, tell Matese and Whitmire that their original idea can be confirmed.
“Something smaller than Jovian mass wouldn’t be strong enough to do the deed. Something more massive, like a brown dwarf, would give a much stronger signal than the 20 percent we assert.” Matese to wired.com in an interview.
“I think this whole issue will be resolved in the next five to 10 years, because there’s surveys coming on line … that will dwarf the comet sample we have today. Whether these types of asymmetries in the directions that comets are coming from actually do exist or not will definitely be hammered out by those surveys,” Matese added. “We anticipate that WISE is going to falsify or verify our conjecture.”
NASA's WISE, an infrared space telescope, is capable of detecting "dark" objects.