Don't panic, but at least one astrophysicist believes there's a mystery planet that follows an unusual orbit through our solar system — and it could trigger events that end all life on Earth soon.
The dramatic claim comes from the University of Louisiana's Daniel Whitmire, who believes "Planet Nine" — a rogue planet with an unusual orbit — may have already caused past extinctions across the globe. Here's more from the UK's Sunday Express:
The former astrophysics professor claims the icy planet will knock space rocks towards Earth as it's 20,000 year orbit around the Sun sees it go through the Kuiper belt, a band of asteroids and comets just beyond Pluto.
Fossil evidence has suggested life on Earth is mysteriously wiped out every 26 to 27 million years.
In the eighties and nineties, scientists suggested the extinctions could be down to a small red dwarf star or bran dwarf planet - known as Nemesis or Death Star - that was passing through the Solar System.
Now Professor Whitmore says he believes Planet Nine could be the cause of these "extinction events".
While Whitmire's claim could be written off as scientific quackery, teams of astrophysicists from other universities have begun to believe that there really is a large, previously unseen ninth planet that orbits the outer fringes of our solar system. Watch the video below for a look at Caltech scientists' theories about "a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system."
Whitmire's theory about a rogue planet influencing mass extinctions — noted by Phys.org at the end of March — is pretty plausible, but it's worth noting that claims of a doomsday just around the corner are coming from fringe elements always on the lookout for the next Apocalypse.
Mysterious Planet Nine — or Planet X, or Nibiru, depending on who's talking about it — is definitely influencing at least one object out there in the darkest reaches of this solar system. Scientific American reported Tuesday that odd deviations in the Cassini spacecraft's orbit around Saturn could only be explained if the gravitational pull of the unseen planet was factored into the calculations trying to explain Cassini's bumps in the road.
All in all, you can probably put away the Go Bag and dry rations, there may not be any pressing need to find a cave in which to ride out an asteroid storm in the next week or two. Still, it does look as though something is out there. Let's hope the scientists remain vigilant.