No. Planet Nine is Not About to Wipe Out Life on Earth
Scientists rally to condemn growing rumors that the mysterious Planet 9 will wipe out life on Earth.
During Outer Places' Science of Star Wars event at Emerald City Comic Con this weekend, our panel of experts briefly discussed the Planet 9 phenomenon that is sweeping through the scientific community. Like a real life Kamino, astronomers have detected orbital anomalies out in the deepest depths of our solar system, and many theorize that such anomalies could be caused by an as yet unseen planet some 10 times larger than Earth. Just as Obi-Wan Kenobi discovered Kamino by noticing objects in that area of space were being drawn to a certain point, astronomers in the real world have noticed similar patterns on the fringes of our solar system, leading to the Planet 9 hypothesis.
But, while Kamino's discovery ultimately spelled disaster for the galaxy far far away, scientists have moved to allay the fears sparked by reports in major news outlets that Planet 9's existence could mean a grim fate for life on Earth. With headlines like 'A killer planet is rapidly heading toward Earth'–which doesn't even back up the claims made in the articles– the likes of The New York Post and The Sun have quoted the work of the University of Louisiana's Professor Daniel Whitmire, who suggests that Planet 9's theorized 20,000 year orbit around our sun has been responsible for previous extinction level events here on Earth.
According to certain outlets, Whitmire's theory centers on the idea that as Planet 9 –or Nibiru, or Nemesis as some have coined it– embarks along its lengthy orbit, it displaces comets and other large objects, sending them on a collision course with Earth. But the reporting on Whitmire's research isn't even consistent in itself. None of these articles pull direct quotes from his research, and as a quick read of the paper shows, Whitmire merely says that such a planet could cause such asteroid displacement, and never says that it actually does.
In this increasingly flimsy game of scientific chinese whispers (or telephone), some outlets have claimed that such an event could happen as early as this month. But Mike Brown, a key figure in the Caltech team that's leading the charge on confirming Planet 9's existence has taken to social media to allay these rather intense fears.
I need to create a twitter robot which, every 15 minutes, tweets: "Thanks for asking! No, Planet Nine is not going to destroy the earth."— Mike Brown (@plutokiller) April 10, 2016
It's Saturday! We're one day closer to the day when Planet Nine will have absolutely no discernible effect on the earth. OK, that's always.— Mike Brown (@plutokiller) April 9, 2016
So, for now at least, it would seem that we should focus on confirming whether or not Planet 9 actually exists before we start jumping to conclusions about it being the source of our impending doom.