Only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and the existence of a secret shadow-Earth called Nibiru lurking in the deep dark of the outer solar system which may one day (possibly in mid-October) collide with the Earth and eradicate all life. Don’t get too excited though: our neighbourhood is probably full of the blighters.
Way back in 1995 – the year Star Trek: Voyager premiered, OJ got cleared of double homicide, and Bombay reverted to Mumbai – a middle-aged Wisconsinite named Nancy Lieder was contacted by gray aliens from Zeta Reticuli who warned her of a terrible and imminent catastrophe. A secret planet which she called ‘Planet X’ was lurking in the silent dark of the deep outer solar system, bound on a slow but inexorable course toward the Earth. Its arrival, the ‘Zetas’ warned, would cause the Earth to flip completely on its axis, unleashing catastrophic tectonic forces which would rip apart the crust and barbecue humanity. The terrible truth was known by NASA and other agents of the establishment, and was being deliberately witheld from the populace for fear of alarming them.
Apparently unmoved by NASA’s restraint, Lieder shared her insights with the level-headed denizens of the early internet. Conspiracy theorists corroborated Lieder’s fears. Was this same the same planet that once visited the ancient Babylonians, felling the lost city of Atlantis and spawning the legends of angelic beings known as Anunnaki? Yes. Would the return of this planet herald the long-awaited Age of Aquarius, liberating humanity from its interdimensional prison? Yes. Was this the catastrophe anticipated by the ‘end‘ of the Mayan calendar in 2012 AD? Definitely yes. And could this be the selfsame apocalypse predicted by Biblical numerology – the event described in the Revelation that would finally precipitate the Rapture?
Uh doi – the answer is, of course, YES.
First Panic, Then Science: Building a Planet, Step One
- It has four times the diameter of Earth and 23 times the mass. That gives it a little over a third of Earth’s density and one and a half times our surface gravity.
- It has a highly eccentric orbit with a period of 3,600 years. For comparison, little Pluto’s orbit is 248 years.
- Nibiru is either a brown dwarf or orbits one (called Nemesis).
- Nibiru is cloaked in a cloud of iron oxide dust, dyeing its skies and seas an ominous red.
- It has “incredible magnetic properties”, sufficient to wreak havoc at long distances and even grip the core of Earth to flip the whole planet right over.
- It is the home of an extremely advanced civilisation known as the Anunnaki, who came to Earth in search of gold to ‘repair’ their atmosphere.
- It is definitely coming in October so you’d better euthanise your pets immediately.
This one may be a little tricky to pull together.
Building a Planet, Step Two: Starting a Flamewar
Though we could just wait until Nibiru shows up next week to satisfy our curiosity, I have a feeling it will be hard to get any science done with all that screaming. Let’s see what we can figure out ahead of time.
Nibiru’s density would seem to put it solidly within the ‘icy’ class of planets – planets made mostly of light molecules such as water (H20), methane (CH4), and ammonia (NH4). Examples of such ‘icy’ planets in our solar system include tiny snowballs like Ceres, Pluto, and Titan, but also giant planets like Neptune and Uranus. Nibiru’s size and density would put it in the latter category: a ball of hot slush cloaked in a thick atmosphere of hydrogen. Exoplanet data increasingly suggests this is one of the most common types of planets. Space is lousy with them.
But we know via Nancy Lieder’s extraterrestrial brain implant that Nibiru has a solid surface sodden with blood rain and populated by gold-hungry space reptiles. What gives?
Turns out there’s only two things we need to do to turn dirt-common Neptune into nightmarish Nibiru: boil off that puffy hydrogen atmosphere and freeze the superhot slurry underneath. One mechanism can achieve both, and it’s something the alien Zetas already told us about Nibiru: the doom-planet has a highly elliptical orbit. Long periods spent quietly freezing in deep space alternate with brief phases in the furnace, where the intense solar wind rips the hydrogen away. It’s really the exact opposite of a Finnish sauna.
What remains after this process depends on time. At first, Nibiru would probably resemble a watery creme brule: a thick, frozen crust sitting over a massive water ocean hundreds of kilometres deep, all swirling over a thick mantle of superhot, super-pressurised ice. Over time that ocean would slowly freeze from the top down, and its hard outer layer would behave more and more like Earth’s crust and mantle, flowing slowly over geological time, cracking and deforming the surface to form mountains and basins and all that lovely bumpy stuff that makes skiing possible.
So far so good. But having gotten rid of that huge hydrogen atmosphere, we now need to put something back. What we really want is a thick, Earth-like atmosphere of mostly nitrogen. Is that possible on a planet that spends most of its life in a sunless void?
Well, yes! Exhibit A: Titan, the petrol moon. A true cryo-world, Titan has a thick atmosphere of nitrogen. The atmosphere hosts a fluid cycle where super-cool methane takes the place of water on Earth: clouds, rainfall, and surface lakes are the beautiful result. We’re not really sure how Titan got such a marvellous atmosphere – other similar planets like Ganymede and Callisto weren’t so lucky. But if it happened once, it can happen again, and it seems to have happened on Nibiru.
All alone in the dark
Since the Pluto controversy astronomers have been roundly embarrassed by the discovery of a whole menagerie of planets way out beyond Pluto. Lots of them are just hunks of ice, but there’s mounting evidence that some of them could be bigger – a lot bigger. Could there be a whole shadow solar system out here, invisible to us in the dark? It’s a possibility astronomers are taking very seriously.
And, as the old saying goes: “where there are planets, there are haunted planets.”
There’s a couple of details we’re still missing: first, the reddish tinge on everything; second, the inhabitants’ relentless thirst for gold; third, the planet’s intense magnetism.
When the New Horizons probe made its historic pass of Pluto, the first thing everyone noticed was the love heart. It became the only good news story of 2016 and no-one can take it away from me come fight me for it. The second thing that sprang to notice was the reddish tinge all over the surface. This is caused by ‘tholins‘, or to use Carl Sagan’s preferred nomenclature, ‘star-tar’. It’s a reddish organic goop caused by UV light interacting with nitrogen and methane, and it’s one candidate as a precursor for the origin of life. Nibiru could have wound up with lots of it after being exposed to so many close passes with the sun, explaining both Nibiru’s reported reddish tinge and its population of intelligent, malevolent reptilian gods.
Next up, what’s with the Anannaki’s hunger for gold? Nancy Lieder said they used it to ‘repair their atmosphere’. Repair… how, exactly?
We can’t say for sure what life on Nibiru breathes – or eats, for that matter. However, gold is a potent catalyst for all sorts of important reactions in organic chemistry. And it’s something Nibiru would lack, since icy planets are by definition metal-deficient. Earth, by contrast, is anomalously rich in the stuff – not that you can tell that from space, mind you.
Finally, what’s with all that magnetism? Neptune’s magnetic field is thought to be produced by ions in its deep, hot, high-pressure ocean. Perhaps Nibiru has a particularly thick ocean. Or perhaps it has a metallic core instead of a rocky one: if it rotated rapidly within a sea of molten ice, it could produce an extremely potent magnetic field. This would help protect modern Nibiru-ans from the worst of the radiation during their periodic sojourns near the Sun.
Life on Nibiru
Since Nibiru spends almost all its time in the gulf between stars, life would have to have developed almost completely independently of the sun. Is that possible?
Well, yes. Earth hosts whole ecosystems in the deep ocean which make their living catalysing chemical reactions around hydrothermal vents. That’s why subsurface oceans are now NASA’s primary targets in the search for extra-terrestrial life. On Nibiru, similar ecosystems may have developed around cryovolcanoes. Since the environment is too cold for liquid water, life would have to make use of methane and ammonia instead. In other words, the Anannaki god-aliens of Nibiru probably have petrol for blood. No wonder they were revered by the ancient Babylonians as ‘bringers of gifts’.
Building a Planet, Step Three: Countdown to Doomsday
Usually, this would be the part of the blog where we crunch the numbers and figure out how probable Nibiru is.
In this case, however, that is redundant, as the freaky reoccurence of the number 33 in the Bible is already hard proof that Nibiru exists and is coming to ruin your day sometime in the middle of next week.
The bottom line:
Better book in with the vet.
If you want to read about a real-life Nibiru, why not check out Titan, the petrol moon? Alternatively, if a shadowy death-world isn’t hardcore enough for you, give Qo’noS – the Klingon Homeworld a go.