Does the Sun Have a Dark Companion?
When scientists noticed that Uranus wasn't following its predicted orbit for example, they didn't question their theories. Instead they blamed the anomalies on an as yet unseen planet and, sure enough, Neptune was discovered in 1846. Now astronomers are using the same strategy to explain quirks in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. According to John Anderson of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., this odd behavior suggests that the sun has an unseen companion, a dark star gravitationally bound to it but billions of miles away. ... Other scientists suggest that the most likely cause of the orbital snags is a tenth planet 4 to 7 billion miles beyond Neptune. A companion star would tug the outer planets, not just Uranus and Neptune, says Thomas Van Flandern of the U.S Naval Observatory. And where he admits a tenth planet is possible, but argues that it would have to be so big - a least the size of Uranus - that it should have been discovered by now. To resolve the question, NASA is staying tuned to Pioneer 10 and 11, the planetary probes that are flying through the dim reaches of the solar system on opposite sides of the sun.