PLANETS BEYOND PLUTO
Every body in our Solar System, including planets, asteroids, comets and meteorites, is kept in orbit by the gravitational pull of the Sun, either directly or indirectly, as in the case of satellites orbiting parent bodies, like the Moon. Since Pluto and Charon were not the cause of any apparent gravitational perturbations in the orbits of the outer planets, it was thought that there must be at least one planet beyond the orbit of Pluto causing this effect. This hypothetical body, when discovered, was likely to be called Isis, Bacchus, Trans-Pluto, Pan or,
most fittingly, Persephone. Some of these options were ruled out when
these names were allotted to asteroids. The name Persephone, for example, was used in 1895 as a name for the 399th known asteroid.
Its Roman equivalent, Proserpina, had been used for the 26th.
Tom van Flandern at the US Naval Observatory had examined the outer planets’ positions and concluded that Neptune’s orbit would drift from its "correct" path after a few years, and that Uranus had only drifted into its correct path for its current orbit. He got together with Robert Harrington to compute the position of a hypothetical tenth planet. They initially came up with one 2 to 5 times the mass of Earth, with an 800-year orbit, in a highly inclined and elliptical orbit, 50-100 AU from the Sun. They also concluded that this body had caused the strange orbits of Neptune’s moons Triton and Nereid; and deflected Pluto into its own orbital path. By 1992, Harrington had refined his calculations to predict that the tenth planet was 4 times the mass of Earth,
had a 1,000-year orbit, a 30° inclination, 0.4 orbital eccentricity, and a semi-major axis of 100 AU.
In 1992, on the other hand, an astronomer named Myles Standish of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory looked at the masses of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune as updated from data gathered by the flights of the Voyager spacecraft, and recalculated the gravitational effects,
and concluded that there were no anomalies of motion. The supposed irregularities were
deemed to have been caused by errors of measurement due to the limitations of the techniques available.
They concluded there was no reason to expect to find a tenth planet of any great size beyond Pluto, and Pluto might not itself be a true planet.
Then, in 2005, the existence of a Kuiper Belt object that was
larger than Pluto was announced by the California Institute of Technology, and
promptly labelled by NASA "the tenth planet". 2003
UB313 was found by
Dr Mike Brown and his colleagues using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory near San
Diego CA. This first photographed the new planet 31 October 2003. However, the object was so far away that its motion was not detected until they reanalyzed the data.
This reanalysis found the new planet at 1120 hr PST on 5 January 2005. Like
Pluto, it appears to be surfaced with methane ice, but is grey in colour.
Dr Brown has code named the possible new planet Xena, after the title character from the cult
TV Xena: Warrior Princess. Other code names had been "Santa" (for 2003 EL61), "Easterbunny" (2005 FY9) and "Flying Dutchman" (Sedna).
As "Xena" is also a Scattered Disk Object it falls in the same class
as Sedna. An unrelated permanent name, which is not that of any Greek or Roman
god, had been proposed for the new planet by the team to the International Astronomical Union,
were awaiting its approval before making it public. The rules for the naming of Kuiper belt
objects state that it must be named after some figure in a creation mythology,
and in the past they have been named after native American, Inuit, and minor Roman
gods, but Dr Brown says, "Our new proposed name expands to different traditions, still."
Some have speculated that the name is to be Layla, named from the Sufi
goddess rather than Derek and the Dominoes' ode to Patti Boyd Harrison.
"Layla" is currently about 97 times farther from the sun than Earth, or 97
AU, and at the farthest end of its orbit. In 240 years it will reach its closest point to the Sun, at 36 AU.
Billions of years of being affected by the orbit of Neptune have resulted in its
orbit and orbital plane. The planet is tilted at 45° degrees to that of the
inner planets, compared to Pluto's orbital tilt of 20°, and this is why it had
not previously been spotted.
The planet appears typical of many Kuiper Belt objects apart from its sheer size in relation to the nine known planets,
which means that it can only be classified as a planet itself. "It is currently almost directly overhead in the early-morning eastern sky in the constellation
Cetus," remarked Dr Brown, adding "We are 100 percent confident that this is the first object bigger than Pluto ever found in the outer solar
system". Its exact size was yet to be determined but it was thought to be
at least half as big again as Pluto. At
the time of its announcement, on 29 July 2005 it was retrograde at 20° Aries.
Mythology and Astrology
The mythical Persephone (È) was abducted by Pluto and taken to the underworld as his wife, but after the intercession of her mother, Demeter (Ceres), was able to return during the summer months. In esoteric astrology Persephone is the higher ruler of Taurus.
OTHER TRANS-NEPTUNIAN OBJECTS
In 1996, John Murray of the Open University discovered 13 long-period comets of similar trajectory that he surmised were being influenced by a Jupiter-class object 32,000 AU from the Sun. A similar conclusion was reached by John Matese of the University of Louisiana from a study of 82 comets. He concluded there could be several unknown planets or brown dwarves within the Oort Cloud.
If the marked axial tilts of Pluto, Neptune, Uranus and Triton (the retrograde moon of Neptune) were caused by collisions with unseen bodies in the remote past, then there must have been a significant number of these, flung out to vast distances by the gravity of the giant outer planets. Otherwise, the chances of all these collisions taking place would be less than one in ten thousand. Triton, Pluto and Charon may all resemble these as yet mostly undiscovered bodies. There could be thousands more of these Trans-Neptunian Objects (or Kuiper Belt Objects) beyond Pluto or Neptune. These could be of between 600-1,200 miles diameter, at a distance from the Sun of up to 5,000 million miles (50 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun). The Sun’s gravity will hold a planet up to eight times the distance of Neptune from the Sun.
Forty years ago, Gerard Kuiper predicted the discovery of a belt of thousands of tiny planets orbiting at the edge of the Solar System. The Hubble telescope has since identified two rings containing at least 200 million bodies, orbiting the Sun far beyond the furthest planet, in this
Kuiper Belt, which lies in the same plane as the planets. Around 325 Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) had been identified by the end of the twentieth century, some only the size of Halley’s Comet. Planetary bodies such as Triton could have escaped from the Kuiper Belt, and Pluto and Charon were probably among the larger members of this Belt. Short period comets, such as Halley’s Comet, originated here, condensed from the cloud of dust, gas and ice that collapsed to form the Sun and the planets.
SMILEY AND KARLA
The Infra-Red Astronomical Satellite had swept seventy per cent of the sky without any major planet being discovered in our Solar System, until on 30 August 1992 a discovery was made. David Jewitt and Jane Luu of the University of Hawaii, employing new techniques and using the 7.3 ft telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, found a small new planetary body just 125 miles across. Orbiting 1,000 miles beyond the orbit of Pluto, this planetisimal was 4,000 million miles away, near the constellation of Pisces, moving slowly westward to the south of the Square of Pegasus, the Winged Horse. Photographs taken 27/28 September 1992 confirmed the discovery, the first of these taken at 0235 hr UT. Officially designated so far only as 1992 QB1, the discoverers nicknamed the new body Smiley (() as they had been discussing John Le Carré’s spy novels immediately prior to its discovery. Smiley was classed as an asteroid (it cannot officially be named Smiley, as an asteroid of that name already exists), though it may be the frigid nucleus of a comet from the Kuiper belt. It was found to have a 262-290 year orbit and to be six million times too faint to be seen by the naked eye, shining at 23rd magnitude.
The following year, on 28 March 1993, the same two astronomers found a second and similar body, nicknamed Karla (another Le Carré character)(1993 FW), thought to orbit somewhere between 38 and 56 AU.
THE VARUNA OBJECTS
On 14/15 September 1993 Jewitt and Luu discovered another two bodies (1993 RO and 1993 RP) just beyond the orbit of Pluto. This was immediately followed by the discovery (by Iwan Williams, Alan Fitzsimmons and Donal O’Ceallaigh, using the Isaac Newton telescope on La Palma) of another pair of trans-Pluto planetesimals only 0.5° degrees apart (1993 SB and 1993 SC, discovered 16/17 September 1993). These last four discoveries were all made just south of the Square of Pegasus, close to the Sun’s position at the Spring Equinox. By 1997 some 30 planetoids had been found near the Kuiper Belt.
1996 PW, discovered in August 1996 using NEAT at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, first appeared to be an asteroid, with a diameter of 5-10 miles. However, its highly elliptical orbit stretches far beyond Neptune and Pluto, resembling that of a long-period comet, except that even at its closest approach to the Sun there has been no evidence of a cometary tail or of out-gassing.
Jane Luu, by now of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre For Astrophysics, Cambridge MA, and her colleagues also discovered a planetesimal, "the first of a new class of planets", so far known as 1996 TL66. Nature, in its 4 June 1997 issue, reported that this was first sighted beyond Neptune on 9 October 1996, when it was at 3° 03’ Taurus, the same spot that Chiron was occupying when discovered, give or take five minutes. 330 miles in diameter, one twenty-fifth the size of Earth, it had a mass between two and eight times greater than other Centaurs so far found in the Kuiper Belt, where it possibly originated. This was the largest to be discovered since Pluto and Charon. As it inhabits space between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud, up to 3/4 of a light year away it probably belongs to the new planetary collection, as its 800-year orbit, and high obliquity and eccentricity (between 35 and 130 AU) also imply. It spends most of its time beyond the Solar System, and is only visible for 100 years in every 800. A name for it was to be chosen by the discoverers and then vetted by the Small Bodies Names Committee of the International Astronomical Union.
The largest of 327 then known Trans-Neptunian Objects, 2000 EB173, was discovered on 10 March 2000. It had a diameter of about 400 miles, and was second in size only to Ceres. It was one of 35 known Scattered Kuiper Belt Objects (SKBO). These have unusual orbital parameters such as inclination, eccentricity or period. It was also one of 25 Centaurs, and like many of them, was found to be of reddish appearance. It is also a Plutino as it has an orbital period like that of Pluto, which may also be a Centaur (calculated as 245.78 years by early available data).
Writing in the Galactic Times (29 October 2000), Phillip Sedgwick observes, "The current position (1 November 2000) of 2000 EB173 is 17 Libra 33. In 2001 it runs between 19 Libra 9 and 23 Libra 59. But what can be said of that position alone? Not much. A Mars like object in Libra? Hmm, give peace a chance. Spread that word, okay? The world needs it.
"Initial delineation can be derived from examining the position of the North Node of the object (19 Virgo 18) and its perihelion (closest approach to Sun - 27 Scorpio 18 - subject to change with refinement of the orbital elements).
"Here we have the M and M signs. Both the glyphs of Virgo and Scorpio contain the M of matter. All things matter. So, this sign combo renders a sense of obsessiveness and compulsiveness. Everything seems significant. ‘How can any occurrence be casual,’ asks this distant, larger body. Though a small object, its claim for attention symbolises those small incidents in life demanding all of our consciousness.
"But it is one of many. The irrational and ever expanding complex details of life (which I think comes from the exponential discoveries in the Kuiper Belt) create a pattern of overwhelming factors to process in life. Sound familiar?"
The existence of these curious bodies was further confirmation of the existence of a band of thousands of such bodies beyond Pluto, as the first few of these discoveries followed a search of around only 1 square degree of the sky (the ecliptic contains 10,000 square degrees). These bodies are likely to be similar to Chiron and Pholus and other known icy snowballs.
The Trans-Neptunian Object 1998 WW31 is orbited by another satellite, like Pluto. Varuna (2000 WR106) was the first TNO to be named. It has a 284.67 year orbit, with a North Node of 7 Cancer 18, and comes to Perihelion at 12 Aries 12.
Mythology and Astrology
The first of any new class of object to be named sets the precedent for that class. In the Hindu tradition, Varuna was supreme lord of the Cosmos, keeper of Divine Order, bringer of rain, keeper of contracts, and oversaw the flight of birds. Later he became only the overseer of all waters as he was conquered by Lord Rama, and was superseded by Vishnu and Shiva. Varuna is held in association with the Moon and with soma – the hallucinogenic drink of the gods. Varuna connects with Vedic astrology, and his job is to keep everything in working order.
Because it was believed that there must be other planets beyond Pluto, a group of mainly German astrologers studied the charts of thousands of people looking for events for which they claimed there was no astrological explanation. They claimed to have establishing "sensitive points", to which they ascribed the existence of hypothetical transplutonian planets. At least 25 of these they accorded ephemerides, with details of alleged position, revolution and influence. There is no independent scientific basis to validate these hypotheses, which must be treated with considerable scepticism. Those advocating their existence note that in 1911 the astrologer Isabelle M Pagan (b. 12 December 1867, 1743 LMT, Pupar, Fife) designated a hypothetical planet, which she named Pluto as ruler of Scorpio. M Wemyss, another astrologer writing circa 1929, named another hypothetical Pluto as his ruler of Cancer, but gave a revolution of 1,366 years.
The details of some of these, with the properties claimed for them as published, are given below:
Isis (*) or Transpluto has a 656-685 year orbit and is between 26° and 29° Leo this decade. Its keywords are trauma, shock and resurrection.
The glyph of Cupido (ä) combines Jupiter and Venus. It brings inner and outer happiness and enhances family. Cupido has an orbit of 262 years. Its degrees range between 20° Scorpio and 4° Sagittarius in the 1990s. Keywords: communities, marriage, art, harmony, spirit
Hades (Ü) has a 360 year revolution and is at 8°-18° Gemini during the 1990s. Its keywords are lowness, dirt, cleaning up, lonely, secrets and ancient arts. Resembling a higher Saturn its concerns are death, loneliness, widowhood - but also ancient wisdom.
Zeus (ü) takes 455 years to complete its cycle. It ingressed from Virgo to Libra during the 1990s. Its keywords are aim, sex, fire, physical leadership and creativity. Like a higher Mars/Uranus it applies energy and focus to a situation.
Kronus (Ä) has a 521-year orbit, between 20° and 28° Gemini in the ‘90s. Keywords are elevate, lead, king, haughty, authority. Combining the natures of a higher Saturn and Jupiter, Kronus is a power figure.
Apollon (ß) has a 576 year revolution period, and travelled from 15°-21½° Libra in the last decade. Keywords are expansion, science, peace, business and success. With its Gemini/Jupiter qualities and glyph, Apollon is prominent in the charts of many scientists and artists.
Combining Pluto/Saturn qualities, Admetos’ glyph (Ö) is a cross of matter grounded within a circle. Its lesson is patience. Admetos’ revolution is 624 years, and it travels between 13°-19° Taurus in the decade before the millennium. Keywords are raw material, circulation, death, stagnation and delay.
Vulkanus (ö) has a 663 year cycle, at 15°-20½° Cancer last decade. Keywords: force, fate, power. With a glyph resembling Concorde, Vulcanus brings pure power and strength, like a higher Pluto.
Poseidon (§) has the longest orbit, 740 years. It travelled from 29° Libra in 1990 to 4½° Scorpio in 2000. Keywords: psychic, spirit, illuminate, mind, ideas. Its glyph is that of Pisces on its side, and it resembles a higher Neptune, bringing psychic awareness.
Others were named as Bacchus (#), Demeter (É)(the esoteric higher ruler of Cancer), Hermes (±)(the Esoteric higher ruler of Gemini), Jason (²), Lilith (Ø), Lion (³), Loki, (´), Midas (µ), Morya (°), Osiris (Ú) and Pan (¸).
Copyright © 1989-2005 [Laurence Upton]. All rights reserved.
Last updated: September 02, 2005