|This artistic rendering shows the distant view from Planet Nine back towards the sun. The planet is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning lights up the night side Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)|
But there is no clear reason to think that destruction is coming. The planet hasn’t even been confirmed as real, yet, let alone suggestions that it could cause doomsday.
Planet Nine is an as yet unconfirmed planet that could sit on the edge of our solar system, and astronomers are currently hunting for it. It is thought to be 10 times the size of Earth and sits 600 times as far away from the sun — but has as yet only been hypothesised based on the unusual motion of other objects at the far end of our solar system.
But that has not kept some people from proclaiming that it is real and is about to destroy all life on Earth.
"A newly discovered planet could destroy Earth as soon as this month," wrote the New York Post on Twitter. The Sun reported that “some are convinced there will be a collision or a near miss [with the mysterious planet] before the end of April”.
But Mike Brown, one of the two main people involved in the claims about Planet Nine, tweeted to confirm that there is no reason to think that Earth is about to be destroyed.
“Hey, so, fun fact? Planet Nine is not going to cause the earth's destruction,” he wrote on Twitter. “If you read that it will, you have discovered idiotic writing!” The idea appears to have come about because of a combination of ideas about Nibiru or Planet X, a planet that some believe has not yet been found or has been wilfully covered up and will crash into Earth and destroy it. That belief has been widely discredited.
It seems to have combined with an idea suggested by scientists last week that Planet Nine’s strange orbit was involved in the periodic mass extinction events that some believe can be seen on Earth. The planet might trigger comet showers that hit the Earth and wipe out life, proposed a new paper by retired astrophysics professor Daniel Whitmire — but there is no reason to believe that such an event is going to happen this month, or any time soon.