It’s a new planet! It’s an unknown star! It’s — oops! | Science News

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It’s a new planet! It’s an unknown star! It’s — oops!

Questions raised about claims of two new massive objects orbiting in our solar system

By
12:50pm, December 11, 2015
Alpha Centauri

FAKE OUT  An unexpected source of radio waves (U) wanders by two members of the triple star system Alpha Centauri (A and B) in these images from the ALMA telescope. These signals are probably not coming from new planets, astronomers say.

Reports of large, previously unknown planets wandering through the outer solar system have been exaggerated.

A few odd blips of radio waves from space hint at not one but two massive bodies far beyond the orbit of Neptune, researchers suggest in two papers posted online December 9 on arXiv.org. A dearth of follow-up observations and the sheer unlikelihood of stumbling across such beasts, however, are cause for a healthy dose of skepticism.

“The nature of the source [of these radio waves] has only become more confusing,” admits Wouter Vlemmings, an astronomer at Chalmers University of Technology and Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden and lead author of one of the papers. Based on feedback received less than 24 hours after posting the papers, “I would rule the chance for an outer solar system object extremely small,” he says. “It was just not something we could rule out on the data alone.”

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