Can the Planet Nibiru Exist?

Drawing of Rogue Planet Nibiru
Artist's conception of the rogue planet Nibiru, or Planet X. (Image credit: gilderm |

Some believe Nibiru is a supposed rogue planet on a collision course toward Earth. It’s often associated with predictions of doomsday events surrounding the end of the Mayan long-form calendar in December 2012. However, despite all the rumors, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to prove the planet exists.

So how did this rumor get started? Nibiru was first mentioned in ‘The Twelfth Planet’ by Zecharia Sitchin. The author used her own method of translation on ancient Sumerian writing to state the ancient peoples had discovered another planet. In the book, Sitchin states this planet was named after the Sumerian god Nibiru.

Later, a self-described psychic, Nancy Leider, claimed she received a message from aliens the fictional planet would collide with Earth in 2003. When the catastrophic event didn’t occur, the date was changed to 2012 to coincide with other doomsday theories.  [VIDEO: 12-21-2012 - Just Another Day]

Another source of confusion is to link Nibiru with “Planet X,” a term used for many years by astronomers to refer to any unknown planet that might exist beyond Pluto. Far from being a real object, this term indicates an unknown or undiscovered object.

Many have tied the existence of a rogue planet with Eris, a dwarf planet found beyond Neptune. Eris is smaller than the Moon, with an orbital period of 557 years, currently far beyond Neptune or Pluto at a distance of about 10 billion miles. Its orbit will never bring it into the inner solar system; the closest it will come, in about 2255, is 4 billion miles.

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Nina Sen
Nina Sen is a frequent contributor to Live Science’s Life’s Little Mysteries series: an exploration and explanation of our world’s phenomena, both natural and man-made. She also writes astronomy photo stories for Live Science's sister site