The Mystery of the Giant Planet Hidden In Our Solar SystemS

There's a giant planet right here, hiding in our Solar System. One that nobody has ever seen, even while it is four times larger than Jupiter and has rings and moons orbiting it. At least, that's what two astrophysicists say.

The name of the planet is Tyche. The scientists are John Matese and Daniel Whitmire, from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. According to them, this colossus is hiding in the Oort Cloud—the asteroid beehive that forms the outer shell of our home system, one light-year in radius. They claim that data already captured by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer proves its existence. It only needs to be analyzed... over the next two years.

Matese and Whitmire are convinced that Tyche is very real now, however. 15,000 times farther from the Sun than Earth, Tyche would be made mostly of hydrogen and helium. The titanic planet would orbit the Sun with moons and rings around it, bubbling with clouds and storm systems similar to Jupiter. It would even have a mild temperature (-73ºC/-99.4ºF) compared to the asteroids around it, which are almost near absolute zero. Whitmire says that the temperature difference is because a titan of this size takes a long time to cool off after its formation.

Would Tyche be the 9th planet of our Solar System, after Pluto's demise? If its existence is finally confirmed, its Solar System planet status may not be guaranteed. The reason: Astronomers theorize that Tyche could be a planet born in another star system and captured by ours. But whatever classification it gets, it's exciting to think that there may be a new neighbor just around the corner. [The Independent]

Original image by NASA is not a concept of Tyche—used to illustrate size.