The 2012 phenomenon has reached fever pitch. Alarm has spread like wildfire. Uncertainty, anxiety—and fear—have gripped many people. Literally, millions are panicking, wondering whether 2012 will be their last year.
The end date is supposedly either December 21 or 23, 2012. Doomsday authors point to December 21, the winter solstice. But the Mayan calendar, on which the end-of-days theory is based, ends December 23.
Like the Y2K panic of 1999 about the year 2000, 2012 hysteria is all over the Internet—in endless books—and in a $200 million movie, filled with the usual sensational Hollywood graphics. And so-called prophecy experts are weighing in on the subject.
People of all ages are asking if cataclysmic events will occur in late 2012 and bring the end of the world. Some are deeply concerned—truly frightened!—that they will not live into their teen years or enter adulthood. They desperately want lives beyond 2012—but fear this will not happen.
Incredibly, some teenagers, and even younger children, have asked if they should end their own lives—and some mothers have expressed thoughts of killing their children—and then themselves—rather than enduring “Earth ending” events!
No one predicts exactly what will happen in 2012, but according to some, it will be “big!”—“Earth shattering!”—and “civilization ending!” There are concerns that the entire earth will be flooded, or burned up by solar flares. The North and South poles may suddenly reverse, wreaking untold havoc on electrical systems. Catastrophic earthquakes may rock the planet, destroying all buildings and opening huge holes in the earth’s crust. Chaos will reign. Mankind will come to the brink of annihilation...and on and on go the theories.
Source of Belief
The Mayan “Long Count” calendar tracks “Great Cycles” of time, and is one of at least three calendars that the ancient Mayans used. It is important to note that one particular calendar indicates that December 23, 2012, is the end of the current cycle of time—which began August 13, 3114 BC on the Gregorian calendar. The Mayan calendar itself states nothing of the world coming to an end, or of any cataclysmic events occurring. It states only that the current time cycle will end.
Many of the fantastic stories and much of the hype come from various archaeological and astronomical speculation, as well as mythology and numerological interpretation. Predictions of impending doom and destruction are nowhere to be found in Mayan accounts or in the Long Count calendar itself. To the modern Mayans, including those who study the ancient calendar, 2012 is actually inconsequential.
If you were to travel to any of the many present day Mayan communities and ask about 2012, and the end of civilization, you would see looks of bewilderment. Modern Mayan sources explain that this calendar was never intended to suggest the world would end in 2012, or at any other time. They will also tell you that professing Christians have deliberately twisted their calendar to suit their own prophetic theories and timelines. Yet millions, with little or no understanding of the Mayan culture, attach civilization-ending significance to 2012. All but two ancient Mayan inscriptions are strictly historical. They make no prophetic declarations whatsoever. The two that supposedly do are unclear at best, and open to a wide array of speculation and interpretation.
Regardless of what the ancient Mayans actually predicted (the mere end of a time cycle!)—wild ideas about 2012 abound. The frenzy is worldwide and picking up steam, with no slowdown in sight. 2012 has also become big business, and many are cashing in on the uncertainty!
Will either the planet or civilization come to a violent end on December 21, 2012, as so many believe? Could the speculation still somehow be true? What does the Bible say? Does it in any way validate 2012 as the “end of all things”?
You will soon have no doubt of the correct answers. It is time to prove whether late December 2012 is the end.
The idea of the end of the world has been a subject of great speculation, ridicule, general discussion, fascination and fancy for 2,000 years—ever since Jesus Christ announced He would return to Earth. With opinions everywhere, there has been an explosion of literature presenting popular scenarios, ideas, theories, suppositions and interpretations of what will occur just before Christ’s Return.
For Christians, the 2012 question begins with what Jesus said about His Return: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes” (Matt. 25:13).
If people were reading even such basic verses, they would never worry about December 21 or 23, 2012 because no man knows the day of Christ’s Return. What a tragic commentary on the state of people who profess to be Christians—but cannot logically compute such rudimentary understanding. But then, most who profess to follow Christ study little or nothing of what He said.
Get this! Just this passage, and other similar ones, rule out this date—or any specific date—that might be suggested for Christ’s Return, or even for the end of all things.
Next read again Jesus’ Olivet prophecy: “The disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world [age]?” (Matt. 24:3). We saw His long answer began with: “Take heed that no man deceive you” (vs. 4).
Jesus goes straight to the biggest problem that would exist at the end. There is an unending and growing number of deceivers at work today. Are their followers taking heed? Ask again: how many are doing their own research regarding men postulating prophetic scenarios, such as 2012? This is only one theory. There are many others, and more appearing all the time.
The 2012 Impossibility
Now let’s examine whether it is even possible—prophetically—for 2012 to be the end. Follow carefully. We have to establish the timing of certain events.
Many are familiar with the term “Tribulation” or “Great Tribulation.” The Bible speaks of this event as one of terrible trouble and indescribable horror. Jesus referred to this time as unparalleled in history: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21). The prophet Daniel also speaks of this period in Daniel 12:1. Jeremiah references it in a similar way in chapter 30, verse 7.
The Bible reveals that a certain very specific amount of time must elapse between the start of the Great Tribulation and the Return of Jesus Christ—or “the end of the age.” So understand. If it can be proven that there are not enough years in God’s plainly revealed timeline for 2012 to be the end, then all the hysteria is for nothing!
Numerous passages explain that the Tribulation lasts 2½ years, followed by the year-long Day of the Lord. Together, these events last 3½ years, fulfilling 1,260 days before Christ’s Return.
Let’s understand the implications! If the Great Tribulation were to begin today, then there would not be enough time for December 21, 2012 to be the end. But it is also important to realize that certain biblically described preconditions that must lead up to the Tribulation are not, however close they now are, yet here.
So then, just the 1,260 days—again, were it to begin today—would greatly overshoot December 21, 2012. It is therefore absolutely impossible for this date to be the end of the world! All fear of it can disappear! None need be afraid of this fictional doomsday!
It is possible, however, that something of significance could happen in late 2012 because the demon world has a general idea of prophecy, and it does everything in its power to thwart God’s Master Purpose for mankind. It could pull some trick or stunt to confuse the gullible.
Will the World End?
But what about the Return of Christ? Will this usher in the end of planet Earth sometime after 2012? In other words, will all people alive today die in the fulfillment of end-time prophecies—as so many seem to almost assume? The answer is a resounding NO! And here is proof.
When Jesus described world conditions leading to His Return, He stated, “Except those days should be shortened [cut short], there should no flesh be saved” (Matt. 24:22).
Some religionists believe the phrase “no flesh be saved” refers to spiritual salvation. But that is not what Jesus is talking about. Rather, that unless God cuts the Tribulation short, no human beings—“no flesh”—would survive. The human race would become extinct if Christ did not return. The implication is that He will return before this happens. For those who believe God, this is further proof that 2012 could not possibly end human existence.
Other prophecy writers speak of the “end of the world”—that the earth itself will supposedly be destroyed. This could not be further from the truth. This idea often stems from a misunderstanding of Christ’s disciples asking Him for a sign of the “end of the world.” The Greek word translated world means “age.” The disciples were asking when the period of man’s rule would end—and the kingdom of God would be established. They well understood the many Old Testament prophecies that speak of the Messiah setting up the kingdom of God on Earth.
But beyond all the bad news is the very greatest possible good news! Yet few speak of this! Most talk only about disaster, calamity and the possible annihilation of all people. This is because they are largely unaware of the most positive elements of prophecy—and of the true gospel!
Unraveling the Myth
God’s servants understand the basic framework of His overall prophetic timetable and plan. They are not confused about “what happens next,” once certain prophecies begin to take place. Many prophecies involve a tremendous amount of understanding that God makes available, and with all necessary details. They understand exactly what lies ahead for all mankind, and for themselves—if they are faithful. Those of Christ’s one Church—the one He promised to build (Matt. 16:18) almost 2,000 years ago—have heeded the Bible’s many warnings about what lies ahead.
December 21, 2012, is NOT the end! Do not fear this date! Human beings will never be wiped out. All the hysteria is for nothing! In fact, at a certain point this Personal will be available after 2012 has come and gone!
Countless verses could have been cited to disprove the 2012 deception. Scripture makes plain that 2012 does not mark the “end of the world,” and that such ideas are preposterous to the point of almost humorous—were it not for the fear and confusion they spawn.
But whether we are in the last days is a big question. To learn more about the last days, read my booklet Are These the Last Days?
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A new billboard popping up around the country is proclaiming Jesus' return to Earth and whether you believe it or not, it's certainly got people talking.
Billboards To Proclaim Jesus' Return On May 21
Mark your calendars and get ready. According to 20 billboards to appear Monday across metro Detroit, Jesus is returning on May 21, 2011. And if you aren't saved, it isn't going to be easy, says the Christian Web site behind the billboards, which are to read "He Is Coming Again!" The billboards are meant to be a reminder to folks to prepare for what is often known as the Rapture. After certain followers of Jesus are raised up to be with him, those left behind after May 21 will have to suffer through an earthquake that will open graves. And five months later -- on Oct. 21, 2011, to be exact -- the world will end "with God destroying the universe and everything in it," Warden said.
Raleigh, North Carolina-based We Can Know is erecting the billboards in cities across the United States. Their Scripture analysis shows that Christ will return on May 21, 2011.
Allen Thompson in Bridgeport believes it might be true.
"I think it's talking about God and how he's coming to Earth again. I think He's coming pretty soon," he said.
Others are a bit more skeptical.
"I don't think so. I think it's a church giveaway or something," said Daniel Vasquez of Bridgeport.
The group doesn't want to frighten anyone, rather they just hope the billboards will encourage more to read the Bible and find out for themselves.
Washington Post - Timberly Ross - 3 days agoA Christian group is proclaiming Jesus' return in billboards going up in Omaha and other ... says an analysis of Scripture shows Jesus will come on May 21. ...Billboards Proclaim Jesus' Return May 2011 And The Destruction Of ... - Gather.com
Jesus Will Return On May 21, 2011, Says Billboard - Popular Fidelity
Billboards to proclaim Jesus' return - Detroit Free Press
MyFox Memphis - MLive.com
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Pitch Weekly (blog) - Justin Kendall - 4 hours agoWe Can Know has been putting up billboards (two in the KC area) that reveal the date of Jesus' supposed return. So mark your 2011 calendars for May 21. ...
Indiana's NewsCenter - Valerie Caviglia - 2 days agoJudgment Day: The religious group We Can Know will put up billboards in Fort Wayne claiming Jesus' return on May 21, 2011. ...
Houston Chronicle - 17 hours agoHow does this group purport to know that Jesus will come on May 21, 2011? ... notion of the Lord's Return. Jesus could come today. That's good enough for me.
The story of the Three Wise Men is one of the most familiar and beloved parts of the Christmas story. But for all of their popularity, the mysterious travelers from the East — known as the Magi — appear in only one short passage in the New Testament, following a star to the site of Jesus' birth and bringing gifts of gold, francincense and myrrh. Many religious scholars aren't even sure they really existed.
Are the Three Wise Men part of the Illuminati Hierarchy?
Now, a first-ever English translation and detailed analysis of a little-known eighth-century text uncovers a far more substantial version of the wise men story.
Brent Landau, a professor of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma and an expert in ancient biblical languages, found references to a text about the wise men in writings from the Middle Ages and learned that a collector in the 18th century had discovered in a Turkish monastery a manuscript called "the Revelation of the Magi" with a narrative about the wise men. He gave it to the Vatican Library, where the document, written on vellum, a type of parchment made of animal skin, remains archived away in virtual obscurity.
As part of his doctoral dissertation at Harvard Divinity School, Landau spent seven years translating and analyzing the text, written in Syriac, a language used by early Christians throughout the Middle East and Asia — and which he happened to be studying. He worked from both a 1927 published text in Syriac and the original document at the Vatican.
Landau's book, Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men's Journey to Bethlehem (HarperOne) describes the Magi as an ancient mystical sect descended from Seth, the pious and virtuous third son of Adam and Eve. From Seth they inherited a prophecy of "a star of indescribable brightness" someday appearing and "heralding the birth of God in human form." This same star had initially hovered over the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
Among the book's other revelations:
•The Magi are described as coming from a land called Shir, "located in the extreme east of the world, at the shore of the Great Ocean." In other ancient texts, Shir is referred to "as a place where silk comes from," says Landau, suggesting that the references were to China.
•In Syriac, the word Magi means "to pray in silence." Landau says it has no relationship to magicians or astrologers, sometimes cited in stories today.
•The text names 12 Magi, not three, while other parts of the text suggest that "a group the size of a small army" traveled to Bethlehem, says Landau.
Other religion scholars who reviewed Landau's work recognize the unique interest the wise men narrative holds.
Of the many early Christian documents recently discovered, Magi "is by far the most fascinating," writes John Dominic Crossan, professor emeritus at DePaul University, in a comment on the book's back cover.
"Landau is to be congratulated for bringing this important and unexpectedly influential work to light," adds Jennifer Knust of Boston University School of Theology, in another comment.
Although the text claims to be personal testimony, "it seems unlikely that it could have been written by the Magi themselves," Landau says. He cites a number of anachronisms, such as references to Christian writings recorded years after Jesus' death.
Who then wrote the wise men story?
"One guess," says Landau, "is some kind of religious community of Christian mystics."
The fact that the Magi are described as standing for days at a time on top of a sacred mountain, visiting a purifying spring, and seeing visions after eating certain foods could suggest that this was a way for a community to talk about itself and give it some authority by putting it in the mouths of the Magi, he says.
In addition to offering a detailed account of the life and background of the wise men, the text sheds some light on how some early Christians experienced Christ, Landau says.
When they first encounter the long-prophesied star, the text says it initially appears in a celestial form that then transforms into a human form or "star child," who instructs them to go to Bethlehem to witness its birth. Each of the Magi, in fact, sees the star child in a different form, with each vision representing a different time in the life of Christ. Nowhere in the text is the name Jesus Christ used to designate the Magis' celestial guide, suggesting that they experienced Christ and became followers without ever knowing the savior figure by that name, Landau says.
This speaks to the "universality of Christ's revelation," says Landau, an Episcopalian.
What should everyday readers take from this retelling, especially during the Christmas season?
An appreciation for the "imaginative way in which early Christians engaged" the story of the wise men to make it their own, says Knust. They "loved this story enough to write this version."
Christians carry on that same tradition today, whether through Christmas pageants, or songs, or art. "We continue to re-imagine the significance of the Christmas story in a way that is meaningful to the people," she says.
St. Nicholas, Myrrh And Frankincense
Myrrh and frankincense have had spiritual significance since ancient times and they also were adopted as medicines for physical ailments. When referring to this pair of herbs, Westerners might immediately think of their historic importance in religion. The herbs are best known through the story of the Three Wise Men (Magi) delivering gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the baby Jesus; myrrh was also used to anoint Jesus' body after the crucifixion.
'Tower of Babel' and 'Noah's Ark' Amusement Park being built near Sinsinnati'
Tower of Babel and Noah's Ark Amusement Park to be built in Kentucky
When Jesus comes back on May 21, 2011, where's he going to go first? Well, there's an amusement park he might be interested in, because it's based off of his life and times! A cooperative effort between Ark Encounters LLC and Answers in Genesis, the group behind the Creation Museum, have come up with $150 million dollars they are using to construct a religious theme park they've dubbed The Ark Experience in northern Grant County, Kentucky. The religious theme park, The Ark Experience, will feature a first-century Middle Eastern village, a full-sized replica of Noah's Ark with animals, and a Tower of Babel.
The unusual religious theme park is expected to bring up to a million visitors a year to Northern Kentucky, according to studies conducted by Governor Steve Beshear's office. Complaints that tax breaks for the theme park violate the separation between church and state are being brushed off by Governor Beshear, who believes that economic impact is economic impact, regardless of religious philosophy.
"Make no mistake about it, this is a huge deal," said the Democrat governor of Kentucky. "There's nothing that's even remotely, unconstitutional about a for-profit organization coming in and investing a $150 million to create jobs in Kentucky and bring tourism to Kentucky. I think this project accentuates the faith of the people and the values of the people in Grant County tremendously."
The phallus of Osiris in Hollywood?Full article:
Is it possible that the “phallus of Osiris”, the Egyptian Lord of the Underworld, is located under a hill in Hollywood? As outlandish as it may seem, truth might be stranger than any film producer could imagine!
Some stories are weirder than anything Hollywood screenwriters could come up with. But then, facts are often stranger than fiction! How would you react if you were told that the phallus of the Egyptian god Osiris is possibly located underneath a buried pyramid in the very centre of Hollywood – Los Angeles? Doesn’t this sound like something from a movie? Well, it isn’t.
The site where Osiris’ phallus is supposedly buried is known as the Hollywood Cross, which sits on a small hill next to Interstate 101, at Cahuenga. The site is notorious as the cross can clearly be seen from the 101, especially at night, when it is illuminated and sometimes – depending on visibility – seems to be suspended in mid air. From the Hollywood & Highland Center, with its viewing platform designed to give visitors a good view of the Hollywood sign, the sign is visible sitting to the lower left of this iconic view.
So, how could a legendary Egyptian artefact ever end up underneath a completely naturally looking hill in the very heart of lala-land, correct? It seems absurd, impossible, as the Ancient Egyptians according to all historical accounts never made it to America, let alone the “far side” of America. But however illogical it seems, this was nevertheless the total conviction of one of the greatest astrologers of the 20th century, Linda Goodman, who spent a small fortune in trying to prove her case.
The phallus of Osiris in Hollywood?
A 'Snake' Slithers across the Sun
This dramatic image shows what looks like a huge burning snake, slithering across the surface of the sun.
The solar flare eruption, captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, stretches hundreds of thousands of miles across the south side of our star.Known as a 'solar filament', the burning band reaches over 435,000 miles long - nearly twice the distance from earth to the moon.
Solar Dynamics Observatory has captured what appears to be a giant snake slithering along the sun's southeastern limb. The feature is actually a magnetic loop of dense gas suspended over the solar surface.NASA's
The snaky filament, which was first noticed last week by NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft stationed over the sun's eastern horizon, showed signs of instability and had the potential for an impressive eruption, according to SpaceWeather.com. You've got to see SpaceWeather's time-lapse animated image of the flare-up.
An eruption of a solar flare and magnetic filament in August sent two waves of electrically charged particles towards Earth and caused a spectacular display of the northern lights. Will this filament, which is more than 435,000 miles long, or almost twice the distance from the Earth to the moon, have a similar effect? Stay tuned to SpaceWeather.com for pictures and updates.
SpaceX's 'Draco the Dragon' rising to mate with it's heavenly nest
Merlin's New World Order Serpent Cult Illuminated Testicle Wizardry continues three fold as SpaceX's Dragon poised to go orbital
After two aborted attempts, Saturday's two-second static fire of Falcon 9's nine liquid oxygen and kerosene-powered Merlin boosters apparently went well. Launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is scheduled for tomorrow at 14:03 GMT.
The first successful flight of the Falcon 9 back in June demonstrated that SpaceX really could get it up as a first step towards providing commercial low Earth orbit lifting services for NASA as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) programme.
The company now has to demonstrate that the Dragon capsule has the Right Stuff to separate from its lifter and orbit the Earth up to four times before gently parachuting into the Pacific off the coast of California.
Mystery Spacecraft to Land
SpaceX explains: "The upcoming demonstration mission... should follow a flight plan nearly identical to the first Falcon 9 launch, but this time the Dragon spacecraft will separate from the second stage and will demonstrate operational communications, navigation, maneuvering and reentry.
"Although it does not have wings like Shuttle, the Dragon spacecraft is controlled throughout reentry by the onboard Draco thrusters which enable the spacecraft to touchdown at a very precise location -- ultimately within a few hundred yards of its target."
Naturally, Musk's team has all the required paperwork in order, having been granted the first "commercial licence to reenter a spacecraft from Earth orbit".
If all goes to plan, SpaceX's next challenge will be to rendevous a Dragon with the International Space Station, followed by a third mission to achieve full Dragon mating with the orbiting outpost.
With NASA's approval, these two missions could be combined, Reuters notes. The agency hopes to have unmanned Dragons dropping off supplies at the ISS by December next year.
SpaceX rival Orbital Sciences, meanwhile, is gearing up to launch its own Taurus II next year, with an eye to having the Cygnus space delivery truck operational by 2012
Our sun may have a companion that disturbs comets from the edge of the solar system — a giant planet with up to four times the mass of Jupiter, researchers suggest.
A NASA space telescope launched last year may soon detect such a stealth companion to our sun, if it actually exists, in the distant icy realm of the comet-birthing Oort cloud, which surrounds our solar system with billions of icy objects.
The potential jumbo Jupiter would likely be a world so frigid it is difficult to spot, researchers said. It could be found up to 30,000 astronomical units from the sun. One AU is the distance between the Earth and the sun, about 93 million miles (150 million km).
Most systems with stars like our sun — so-called class G stars — possess companions. Only one-third are single-star systems like our solar system.
Scientists have already proposed that a hidden star, which they call "Nemesis," might lurk a light-year or so away from our sun. They suggest that during its orbit, this red dwarf or brown dwarf star would regularly enter the Oort cloud, jostling the orbits of many comets there and causing some to fall toward Earth. That would provide an explanation for what seems to be a cycle of mass extinctions here.
Still, other astronomers recently found that if Nemesis did exist, its orbit could not be nearly as stable as claimed.
Now researchers point to evidence that our sun might have a different sort of companion.
To avoid confusion with the Nemesis model, astrophysicists John Matese and Daniel Whitmire at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette dub their conjectured object "Tyche" — the good sister of the goddess Nemesis in Greek mythology, and a name proposed by scientists working on NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope.
It is the WISE observatory that, using its all-seeing infrared eye, stands the best chance of having spotted Tyche, if this companion to the sun exists at all, the researchers said. [WISE telescope's amazing images]
Matese and Whitmire detailed their research Nov. 17 online edition of the journal Icarus.
Comet-flinging sun companion
The researchers noted that most comets that fly into the inner solar system seem to come from the outer region of the Oort cloud. Their calculations suggest the gravitational influence of a planet one to four times the mass of Jupiter in this area might be responsible.
Two centuries of observations have indicated an anomaly that suggests the existence of Tyche, Matese said. "The probability that it could be caused by a statistical fluke has remained very small," he added.
The pull of Tyche might also explain why the dwarf planet Sedna has such an unusually elongated orbit, the researchers added.
If Tyche existed, it would probably be very cold, roughly minus 100 degrees F (-73 degrees C), they said, which could explain why it has escaped detection for so long — its coldness means that it would not radiate any heat scientists could easily spot, and its distance from any star means it would not reflect much light.
"Most planetary scientists would not be surprised if the largest undiscovered companion was Neptune-sized or smaller, but a Jupiter-mass object would be a surprise," Matese told SPACE.com. "If the conjecture is indeed true, the important implications would relate to how it got there — touching on the early solar environment — and how it might have affected the subsequent distributions of comets and, to a lesser extent, the known planets."
Is Tyche really out there?
The fact of Tyche's existence is questionable, since the pattern seen in the outer Oort cloud is not seen in the inner Oort.
"Conventional wisdom says that the patterns should tend to correlate, and they don't," Matese said.
If the WISE team was lucky, it caught evidence for the Tyche solar companion twice before the space observatory's original mission ended in October. That could be enough to corroborate the object's existence within a few months as researchers analyze WISE's data.
But if WISE detected signs of Tyche only once (or not at all), researchers would have to wait years for other telescopes to confirm or deny the potential solar companion's existence, Matese said.
Dark Jupiter May Haunt Edge of Solar System
A century of comet data suggests a dark, Jupiter-sized object is lurking at the solar system’s outer edge and hurling chunks of ice and dust toward Earth.
“We’ve accumulated 10 years’ more data, double the comets we viewed to test this hypothesis,” said planetary scientist John Matese of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “Only now should we be able to falsify or verify that you could have a Jupiter-mass object out there.”
In 1999, Matese and colleague Daniel Whitmire suggested the sun has a hidden companion that boots icy bodies from the Oort Cloud, a spherical haze of comets at the solar system’s fringes, into the inner solar system where we can see them.
In a new analysis of observations dating back to 1898, Matese and Whitmire confirm their original idea: About 20 percent of the comets visible from Earth were sent by a dark, distant planet.
This idea was a reaction to an earlier notion that a dim brown-dwarf or red-dwarf star, ominously dubbed Nemesis, has pummeled the Earth with deadly comet showers every 30 million years or so. Later research suggested that mass extinctions on Earth don’t line up with the Nemesis predictions, so many astronomers now think that object doesn’t exist.
“But we began to ask, what kind of an object could you hope to infer from the present data that we are seeing?” Matese said. “What could possibly tickle [comets'] orbits and make them come very close to the sun so we could see them?”
Rather than a malevolent death star, a smaller and more benign companion called Tyche (Nemesis’ good sister in Greek mythology) could send comets streaming from the Oort Cloud toward Earth.
The cosmic snowballs that form the hearts of comets generally hang out in the Oort Cloud until their orbits are nudged by some outside force. This push could come from one of three things, Matese said. The constant gravitational pull of the Milky Way’s disk can drag comets out of their icy homes and into the inner solar system. A passing star can shake comets loose from the Oort Cloud as it zips by. Or a large companion like Nemesis or Tyche can pull comets out of their comfort zones.
Computational models show that comets in each of these scenarios, when their apparent origins are mapped in space, make a characteristic pattern in the sky.
“We looked at the patterns and asked, ‘Is there additional evidence of a pattern that might be associated with a passing star or with a bound object?’” Matese said.
After examining the orbits of more than 100 comets in the Minor Planet Center database, the researchers concluded that 80 percent of comets born in the Oort Cloud were pushed out by the galaxy’s gravity. The remaining 20 percent, however, needed a nudge from a distant object about 1.4 times the mass of Jupiter.
“Something smaller than Jovian mass wouldn’t be strong enough to do the deed,” Matese said. “Something more massive, like a brown dwarf, would give a much stronger signal than the 20 percent we assert.”
There’s one problem, however. The pattern only works for comets that come from the spherical outer Oort Cloud, which extends from about 0.3 to 0.8 light-years from the sun. Comets from the flatter, more doughnut-shaped inner Oort Cloud don’t create the same distinctive pattern.
“That’s troubling,” Matese said. “It requires an entirely new dynamical explanation for how inner Oort Cloud comets are made observable.”
That the same weird pattern from 1999 is still there today “definitely makes it a stronger case than past papers,” said planetary scientist Nathan Kaib of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, who was not involved in the new work. But he would still like to see more data.
“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,” he said. “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.”
We may not have to wait that long, Matese said. An object like Tyche could be seen directly by WISE, NASA’s infrared space telescope.
“We anticipate that this WISE is going to falsify or verify our conjecture,” he said. “We just have to be patient.”