The 'Nibiru' or 'Planet X' conspiracy: Here's what NASA researchers have to say

Researchers found that ‘Planet X’ is plausible based on simulations, but what does that validate?

There are many conspiracy theories grounded in space and astronomy — from the Apollo 11 moon landing to lizard-people behind the Freemason and Illuminati movements.

Another popular theory that resurfaced this week after clouds were seen tinted with dramatic shades of orange and red, was the Mayan prophecy that predicted the end of the world in the form of a planetary alignment of Earth, Sun and planet 'Nibiru' — a mythical planet that supposedly orbits the Sun.

The video, which went viral after it was published on 19 September, caught the widespread reddish hues in the sky over Cincinatti in the US at sunset that evening.

The theory about 'Nibiru' has now resurfaced after the video, spurring renewed chatter about the planet and the imminent apocalypse that entails.

The Nibiru 'end-of-the-world' conspiracy

The conspiracy theory makes claims that our planet will end in devastation from a giant space body — Nibiru — which lurks just outside our solar system, according to an International Business Times report. Believers claim that the rogue planet will knock Earth with its full might and cause irreparable devastation.

NASA’s response to the last predicted apocalypse in 2012

In anticipation of the world surviving the famous 21 December 2012 call for the world's end, NASA prepared a response well in advance. The space agency released a video on a day later — on 22 December — with all the reasons as to why the claim was a hoax and nothing more.

In the video, NASA acknowledges some of the strengths and accomplishments of the Mayans in the field of astronomy and their grasp of time — which they mapped over billions of years. They were admittedly scientific, well-recorded and highly advanced for a time without the technology available today, the space agency suggested.

In the spirit of dispelling further doom-mongering about Nibiru (which NASA follows as 'Planet X'), NASA set up an open Google Hangout. The discussion was led by six senior NASA researchers, who discussed their research into a possible ‘Planet X’ and clarified doubts. NASA may have been right about the Mayans' scientific prowess, for there is evidence that ‘Planet X’ could be a plausible reality.

A hypothetical 'Planet X', and NASA's interest in it

Early this year, NASA said in a press release that researchers from Caltech have found evidence of what could be a "real” Planet X deep in the solar system.

“It's too early to say with certainty there's a so-called Planet X,” Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, was quoted in the release. “What we're seeing is an early prediction based on modelling from limited observations. It's the start of a process that could lead to an exciting result."

A representation of the orbits traced by the Kuiper Belt objects, some of which are yet to find an explanation. Image courtesy: NASA

Six distant objects in our solar system have orbits that reach beyond Neptune (in magenta), which all extend in a single direction. This oddity, researchers think, indicates that a large planet, possibly Planet X, (in mustard) could be the reason for it. However, this remains a theory till researchers observe the hypothetical planet, and trace its path. Image courtesy: Caltech/NASA

Planet X's existence extends beyond the credibility of Mayan calendar events — it also explains the alignment of objects on the Kuiper Belt, a Caltech report reads. It offers an explanation for the mysterious orbits that two of these objects follow, which have yet to be reasoned.

Does the existence of Planet X mean the prophecy is true?

NASA has made its stand abundantly clear: the conspiracy theory surrounding Nibiru is nothing more than an internet hoax — it would be easily visible to the naked eye if it was real.

“The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs,” NASA said in a Q&A feature about Nibiru and points to the near-Earth Object study, which monitors objects that will likely fly past Earth at close range and the threat they pose.

An artistic rendition of Planet X, also called Planet Nine in some studies and reports. Image courtesy: NASA

An artistic rendition of Planet X, also called Planet Nine in some studies and reports. Image courtesy: NASA

Caltech researcher Mike Brown co-discovered Planet X’s existence in the modelling study but is yet to directly observe it. He also played a key role in demoting Pluto’s status to a dwarf planet.

"All those people who are mad that Pluto is no longer a planet can be thrilled to know that there is a real planet out there still to be found," Brown said to the university press.

"Now we can go and find this planet and make the solar system have nine planets once again."

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