Planet X – Is there Scientific Evidence?
In 1976, in his book “The 12th Planet”, the late author Zecharia Sitchin (1920-2010) introduced the controversial hypothesis that modern humans did not evolve naturally, but instead they were genetically created by a race of anthropomorphic beings whose home is another planet in our solar system, one yet to be discovered.
Mr. Sitchin, or better yet the ancient Sumerians (as he always insisted that his writings were based on Sumerian accounts) claimed that this planet with its highly elliptical trajectory, cuts through the plane of our solar system at a 90-degree angle (between Mars and Jupiter) every 3600 years. The Sumerians called this planet Nibiru (it means "the planet of the crossing".)
Zecharia Sitchin ( Public Domain )
Nibiru and the Cosmic Collision
According to Sumerian accounts (or Sitchin’s if you prefer) Nibiru—once a wandering planet—was ultimately caught by the gravity of our newly formed solar system roughly four billion years ago. Around that time, planet Earth (referred to by the Sumerians as Tiamat) was a larger, watery planet that revolved around the Sun in an orbit farther out in the solar system, between Mars and Jupiter.
During one of the early crossings of Nibiru, a moon orbiting Nibiru collided with Tiamat. That collision was said to have not only broken Tiamat in two pieces, but ultimately pushed the fractured planet, with what was left to become its moon, into a new orbit around the Sun. In its brand new orbit, Tiamat became the Earth and the Moon we know today. Sitchin further noted that if the debris left behind by the cosmic collision was not absorbed by the exoplanets, it was either scattered in the vacuum of space or became the Asteroid Belt.
Artist's depiction of a collision between two planetary bodies. ( Public Domain )
A farfetched hypothesis, many will say. Is it though? Is it possible that Sitchin's original story on Nibiru was solely based on scientific speculations from his own time, or as he claimed he found a message in the Sumerian scripts, one that the mainstream academia chose to ignore because of its "fantastic" content? Let's not ignore that the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians similarly mentioned of this renegade planet which, according to them, devastates Earth every time it passes by. If so, can this planet be accountable for the Earth's alleged cosmic collision, and can such an event be supported scientifically?
In 2001, after an eight-year extensive study held by Robin Canup of the Southwest Research Institute, she pointed out that a planetary collision with Earth not only created the Moon, but in fact, may have helped to jumpstart the Earth’s rotation! Prior to the completion of her study and that conclusion, Canup extensively worked with William Ward and Alastair Cameron, who represented one of two separate research groups that helped develop the original impact theory during the 1970s.
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Unlike earlier studies though, where researchers thought that the moon was debris left behind from the colliding planet, today—as scientists discovered that the isotopic compositions of the Earth and the Moon are nearly identical—they have concluded that the Moon was a piece off the Earth and not debris from the colliding planet.
The primary objective of the new study was not only to demonstrate that a collision had taken place, but also to better explain how, in the aftermath, both bodies ended up in their present geological condition. For example, scientists already know that in contrast with Earth, which is loaded with iron (especially deep in its core), the Moon contains very little iron. This fundamental difference between the two objects led scientists to conclude that if the Moon was created from a past cosmic collision, it was pieced together out of the Earth’s crust, which contains much less iron.
Planets and dwarf planets of the Solar System. Compared with each other, the sizes are correct, but the distances are not. ( Public Domain )
Of course, the latest hypothesis contradicts an earlier theory where the Earth and Moon were pieced together after the Earth was completely demolished in a planetary crash. The new research focused on a lighter impact. Backed by several computer simulations, the study established that about four billion years ago, and shortly after the creation of the solar system, the Earth collided with another unknown planetary object in our solar system which, as previously suggested, revolved around the Sun. The scientists further concluded that the trajectory of this unknown planet caused it to cross with Earth’s orbit on a regular basis.
The Birth of the Moon
Ultimately, the two planets collided; and from this collision, the Moon was born! According to this study though, the impact was more of a glancing blow from the rear and at an angle, rather than a head-on collision. As for the debris, if it did not get reabsorbed to create the Moon, it was expanded in space or fell back to Earth. Several computer simulations further established this scenario could primarily take place if two conditions were met: a) the collision was more of a glancing blow from behind and not a head-on collision and b) the Earth must have been fully established by the time of the collision; otherwise, it could have never recovered. The same study also projected that this impact could have been what started or modified the Earth’s rotation!
Although the particular study did not go as far as to examine the possibility of whether Earth, at one point, could have revolved around the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, interestingly, it otherwise validates every other aspect from Sitchin's claim.
What about Nibiru or Planet X, as modern astronomers call it? Is it possible that there is another planet in our solar system? While, for several decades, scientists unsuccessfully have searched for Planet X, as it turns out, on December 11th, 2015, Wouter Vlemming and his scientific team announced that they finally found the renegade planet (See Washington Post article titled: " Scientists claimed they found elusive ‘Planet X.’ Doubting astronomers are in an uproar.")
Of course, and to no one's surprise, several astronomers immediately disputed the surprising announcement, including Mike Brown (a Cal Tech astronomer best known as the "Man who killed Pluto".) Most unpredictably, however, Mike Brown and his own team, although harsh critics of the earlier announcement, less than a month later, in January 2016 stepped forward to announce their own discovery of Planet X (See article in Los Angeles Times : "Astronomers' findings point to a ninth planet, and it's not Pluto".)
Regardless though of how exciting these latest announcements may be, many of us who are old enough still remember that Planet X was actually pronounced found more than 30 years ago. In fact, in 1987, an article in "The New Illustrated Science and Invention Encyclopedia" , covering the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 space program, published an illustration that not only showed the trajectories of the two spacecrafts, but interestingly enough, the exact location of Planet X as well as the location of another dead star in our solar system!
So, if Planet X gradually is turning out to be real, what about Sitchin's claim that the Earth, at one point, may have revolved around the sun between Mars and Jupiter? Does such a claim have any basis?
The unusually closely spaced orbits of six of the most distant objects in the Kuiper Belt indicate the existence of a ninth planet whose gravity affects these movements. ( Public Domain )
The Titius-Bode Law, established initially by Johann Daniel Titius in 1766 and followed by Johann Elbert Bode in 1768, was a hypothesis that mathematically rationalized the semi-major axes of the six known planets at the time (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), and further predicted the existence of another planet in the void between Jupiter and Mars. When William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781 and the planet’s orbit matched the law almost perfectly, this led astronomers to the conclusion that there should be another planet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
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In 1800, determined to bring the solar system into order, astronomers began an extensive search for the missing planet between Mars and Jupiter. Instead of a large planet though, they found several smaller planetary bodies that, although at first they classified as planets, later they demoted them as large asteroids—or dwarf planets, such was Ceres, the first dwarf planet found in the asteroid belt with a diameter of 950 kilometers (590 miles). Pallas was the second with a diameter of 530 kilometers (329 miles). In 1807, two more dwarf planets were found in the region: Juno and Vesta.
"Della scoperta del nuovo pianeta Cerere Ferdinandea" outlining the discovery of Ceres, dedicated the new "planet" ( Public Domain )
In 1802, soon after the discovery of Ceres and Pallas, Heinrich Olbers, a German physician and astronomer, suggested that the two planets were fragments of a much-larger planet which once occupied the region and had suffered an internal explosion or destruction by a comet millions of years earlier. Over time, the Olbers hypothesis fell from favor due to the fact that the debris in the asteroid belt did not amount to the mass of an entire planet.
What if, though, as Sitchin suggested, the planet between Mars and Jupiter was not obliterated but rather pushed into a new orbit? We must not ignore that Ceres, a watery planetoid in the Asteroid Belt whose spectral characteristics suggest a composition similar to that of a carbonaceous chondrite, match with Sitchin's Tiamat (or Earth if you prefer). Vesta, on the other hand, a water-poor achondridic asteroid, not only has a completely different composition from Ceres, but is believed to be a planetoid associated with several other smaller objects in the solar system, including most near-Earth asteroids.
Is it possible that Vesta, and most V-type near-Earth debris, could be remnants from the colliding planet that ultimately pushed the fractured Tiamat in its new orbit, as Sitchin suggested? Perhaps, time—and space—will tell!
Christos A. Djonis is the author of the book "Uchronia? - Atlantis Revealed"
Featured image: Artist’s depiction of a mysterious Ninth Planet. (CC BY-SA 4.0)