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Does our solar system contain a tenth planet on an extremely long and elliptical
orbit? Does an elusive tenth planet still lurk undiscovered in the distant dark
depths of space?
Astronomers are indeed sufficiently certain of such a planet's existence that th
ey have already given it a name - 'Planet X', i.e. the Tenth Planet.But does thi
s mysterious planet still exist or was it long ago ejected from our solar system
or else destroyed?
And what possible connection might there be between Planet X and ancient legends
of a god named Marduk or Nibiru?
In 1978, the theory of Planet X took a giant leap forward when Robert Harrington
and Tom Van Flandern from the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC began to st
udy new scientific data on the mass of Pluto and its satellite Charon. With this
new data, the two astronomers were able to determine that the orbits of Uranus
and Neptune had been disturbed by the gravitational pull of an as yet unidentifi
ed celestial body. In short, the two scientists had found new evidence for the o
ld idea of the Tenth Planet.
Harrington and Van Flandern went on to use sophisticated computer modelling to p
ropose that the Tenth Planet, named Planet X, had somehow ejected Pluto and Char
on from their previous positions as satellites of Neptune.[2] They proposed that
Planet X might have been an 'intruder planet' which had been captured in orbit
around the Sun 'in a highly eccentric and inclined solar orbit with a long perio
d'. Harrington and Van Flandern's calculations suggested that Planet X would hav
e been 3-4 times the size of the Earth
In 1982, NASA themselves officially recognised the possibility of Planet X, with
an announcement that 'some kind of mystery object is really there - far beyond
the outermost planets'.
One year later, the newly launched IRAS (Infrared Astronomical Satellite) spotte
d a large mysterious object in the depths of space. The Washington Post summaris
ed an interview with the chief IRAS scientist from JPL, California, as follows:
A heavenly body possibly as large as the giant planet Jupiter and possibly so cl
ose to Earth that it would be part of this solar system has been found in the di
rection of the constellation Orion by an orbiting telescope... 'All I can tell y
ou is that we don't know what it is', said Gerry Neugebauer, chief IRAS scientis
Subsequent years saw little new information in the search for Planet X. Scientis
ts, however, continued to carry out mathematical modelling of its characteristic
s. Their experiments suggested that Planet X was three to four times the size of
Earth and had an orbit inclined to the ecliptic by a massive 30 degrees; also t
hat its position was three times farther from the Sun than Pluto.
In 1987, NASA made an official announcement to recognise the possible existence
of Planet X. The American journal 'Newsweek' reported that: NASA held a press co
nference at its Ames Research Center in California last week to make a rather st
range announcement: an eccentric 10th planet may - or may not - be orbiting the
Sun. John Anderson, a NASA research scientist who was the principal speaker, has
a hunch Planet X is out there, though nowhere near the other nine. If he is rig
ht, two of the most intriguing puzzles of space science might be solved: what ca
used mysterious irregularities in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune during the ni
neteenth century? And what killed off the dinosaurs 26 million years ago ?
But as the 1980s drew to a close, the scientific journals began to witness a Pla
net X debunking campaign and now, as we enter the new millennium, few astronomer
s are willing to admit the possibility that a tenth planet might have existed or
might still exist. They prefer to think that the old records of the deviations
in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune were somehow incorrect.
It was in 1989 that I was first made aware of the Planet X theory, thanks to the
American author Zecharia Sitchin and his book 'The Twelfth Planet'.
In 'The Twelfth Planet', Sitchin cited the modern search for Planet X in order t
o provide scientific backing for his interpretation of certain Mesopotamian lege
nds. According to Sitchin's interpretation of these legends, Earth had been visi
ted long ago by a race of extraterrestrial gods known as the Anunnaki, whose hom
e planet had been involved in a catastrophic encounter with the proto-Earth bill
ions of years ago. In Sitchin's opinion, the home planet of these gods was none
other than the elusive Planet X which was being sought by modern astronomers.
Intrigued by Sitchin's research, I devoted an entire chapter to Planet X in my 1
996 book 'Gods of the New Millennium' and I suggested that the planet was curren
tly at the most distant point (the apogee) in its highly elliptical orbit. The b
ig question was when Planet X would return. It was a question made all the more
important by Sitchin's claim that the planet was populated by an intelligent, hu
man-like race of 'gods'.
With hindsight, many of my comments in 'Gods of the New Millennium' (1996) were
ill-conceived. More pertinent by far are my remarks in 'The Phoenix Solution' (1
998), which benefit substantially from the input of the American astronomer Tom
Van Flandern - the man at the heart of the search for Planet X.
According to Tom Van Flandern, it is entirely possible that Planet X began its c
areer in our solar system as a distant outer planet, which was disturbed from it
s orbit by the force of a passing dwarf star. This interaction would have caused
Planet X to veer into the heart of the solar system, towards a fateful encounte
r with one of the inner planets.
In his book 'Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets', Van Flandern wrote
as follows: 'Statistically, a few passing stars would approach within 40 times P
luto's distance of the Sun over the life of the solar system. They would tend to
perturb the outermost planets... into planet-crossing orbits. Eventually the cr
ossings would result in close encounters between planets.'
According to Van Flandern, this perturbation process was not only feasible but i
nevitable, given the existence of planets in such distant orbits.
Van Flandern noted, however, that once Planet X had been forced inwards, it woul
d suffer repeated encounters with the other planets, eventually leading to its e
jection from the solar system. Van Flandern confirmed that such a planet-crossin
g orbit was highly unstable and unlikely to last for more than 100,000 years, ma
inly due to the powerful influence of Jupiter, by far the largest planet of the
solar system:
If Planet X crosses Jupiter's orbit, it is a goner, either by collision with Jup
iter or ejection from the solar system, within 100,000 years... The encounters w
ith Jupiter are not merely potential, but inevitable, because of forced precessi
on of the orbit by Jupiter... Jupiter's gravity is so strong that it can elimina
te another body in a single close approach.
Might it be the case, then, that Planet X is no longer part of our solar system
but was long ago ejected into the depths of space?
But there is yet a further twist to the Planet X story. In his 1995 paper 'Origi
ns of Trans-Neptunian Asteroids', Van Flandern reacted to the recent discovery o
f a new asteroid belt lying deep in space beyond the planet Neptune by suggestin
g that Planet X might have exploded - the asteroids being its fragments.
Four years later, in the September 1999 edition of 'Meta Research Bulletin', Van
Flandern reacted to the discovery of yet more Trans-Neptunian asteroids by issu
ing the following statement:
'[The discovery of] Three more trans-Neptunian objects confirm the presence of a
second asteroid belt in the region beyond Neptune. This probably indicates that
the hypothetical Planet X is now an asteroid belt rather than an intact planet.
Might Planet X now be a 'Planet Ex'?
In his book 'The Twelfth Planet' (1976), Zecharia Sitchin added a new dimension
to the Planet X debate with his contention that ancient astronomers had referred
to the intruder planet using the names 'Marduk' and 'Nibiru'.
To deal with Marduk first, Sitchin rested his case upon the ancient Babylonian E
pic of Creation known as 'Enuma Elish'. In Sitchin's view, the Epic has Marduk o
riginate from the abyss of space as an intruder planet. This planet Marduk then
underwent various encounters with the outer planets of our solar system, followe
d by a climactic and catastrophic encounter with a planet named Tiamat. Accordin
g to Sitchin's interpretation of the Enuma Elish, the scarred planet Tiamat was
shifted by the impact of Marduk's satellites into a new orbit to become the Eart
h, acquiring in the process a Moon (named 'Kingu' in the Epic) which was previou
sly the moon of Tiamat. Marduk, meanwhile, sailed off into space to begin a vast
elliptical orbit which would bring it back to the site of the celestial battle
every 3,600 years.
In 1997, I wrote to Tom Van Flandern in an attempt to correlate Sitchin's theory
with what appeared to be a similar myth in the ancient Egyptian texts. But Van
Flandern stopped me in my tracks by informing me that Sitchin's interpretation o
f Enuma Elish was in total discord with the laws of celestial dynamics.
In response to Sitchin's proposal that the Earth had had its orbit changed physi
cally as a result of a collision with another planet in the vicinity of the aste
roid belt, Van Flandern pointed out to me that:A major collision must change the
orbit because it changes the momentum of the planet. The new and old orbits mus
t share a common point at the site of the encounter. So a collision cannot take
a planet from one circular orbit to another because such orbits have no points i
n common.
In other words, it was impossible according to the laws of celestial dynamics fo
r Planet X to have shunted Earth from an orbit in the asteroid belt to her prese
nt orbit,because the new orbit does not share a common point with an old orbit i
n the asteroid belt. Van Flandern also commented that:
The least probable orbit to result from a random momentum change [i.e. a collisi
on] is the circular orbit, which in a sense is the most relaxed, least energetic
orbit for that distance from the Sun.
Since the Earth's orbit was almost perfectly circular, Van Flandern ruled out an
y possibility that Earth had suffered a major catastrophic collision. And thus h
e negated the idea that the Babylonian Epic of Creation, as decoded by Sitchin,
was a historical record of events in our solar system.
There is, of course, no law which requires an ancient cosmogony to be scientific
ally valid. Nevertheless it is appropriate to reconsider what Enuma Elish actual
ly says about Marduk and Tiamat. Was Tiamat a planet which gave rise to the main
asteroid belt? And was Marduk an intruder planet which emerged from the outer r
egion of our solar system?
In my book 'When The Gods Came Down' (2000), I put forward a new interpretation
of Enuma Elish which differs significantly from Sitchin's scenario of Marduk as
an intruder planet. The following paragraphs summarise my new understanding of t
he Babylonian Epic.
The opening lines of Enuma Elish describe a sacred marriage between Apsu and Tia
mat in the heavens. The waters of Apsu and Tiamat are joined together (line 4),
and gods are formed inside their collective body (line 8). These gods are Lahmu,
Lahamu, Anshar, Kishar, Anu and Ea. The Epic describes these gods causing a tre
mendous noise in the heavenly abode and upsetting the belly of Tiamat as they su
rged back and forth within her. Apsu then decided to destroy these gods, but Ea,
catching wind of the plan, made a pre-emptive strike and destroyed Apsu. Tiamat
, it would seem, stood idly by while her consort Apsu was vanquished, and hence
she became the target for revenge by Marduk - a theme which dominates the remain
der of the Epic.
Several further points now need to be made to clarify our understanding of the E
pic of Creation. Firstly, there is no basis whatsoever for supposing that Apsu w
as the Sun, as Sitchin suggested. In fact, Apsu was a planet, and the first sect
ion of Enuma Elish describes how this planet was vanquished and cast down to the
Earth by Ea.
Secondly, there is no basis whatsoever for supposing that the gods produced by A
psu were planets of the solar system, as Sitchin suggested. These gods were in f
act produced from within Apsu himself (Tablet I, lines 3 & 9 of the Epic); i
n other words, the planet of Apsu exploded. Therefore, there is no basis whatsoe
ver for supposing that Lahmu and Lahamu were Mars and Venus, or that Anshar and
Kishar were Saturn and Jupiter, or that Anu and Ea were Uranus and Neptune. Thes
e are all false premises.
Thirdly, Marduk did not appear from the cosmic abyss, as Sitchin suggested, but
was born in the Earth in the same manner as the Greek Titan-gods. This is eviden
t from lines 73-84 of the Epic, which describe Marduk's mother and father as Dam
kina and Ea (incidentally, the Assyrian version of the Epic suggests that Marduk
's mother and father were Lahmu and Lahamu). But Ea, we are told, resided in a '
sacred chamber', otherwise known as 'the chamber of fates' (lines 75 & 79).
Where was this chamber and dwelling place of Ea? We know from line 71 that it wa
s 'established upon the Apsu'. Where was the Apsu? It was the underworld of the
Earth, for it had earlier been cast down from Heaven (lines 60-70). In summary,
then, Marduk was created in the heart of the holy Apsu (line 82), which was the
underworld of the Earth, and he then soared up into the heavens metaphysically t
o do battle against the planet of Tiamat.
(This, incidentally, is the same scheme as found in the legends of ancient Egypt
and Greece, and Marduk was described in typically Titan-like terms, with four e
yes, four ears, four winds, and fire blazing forth from his lips.).
Fourthly, there is no basis whatsoever for suggesting (as Sitchin did) that Mard
uk encountered the other planets of the solar system en route to his battle with
Tiamat. These other 'planets' (Ea and Anu) were in fact the gods which had eman
ated from the interior of the exploded planet Apsu.
Fifthly, the battle between Marduk and Tiamat was not a collision between two pl
anetary systems. Yes, Tiamat was a physical planet, but Marduk was a metaphysica
l avenger-god who rose up from the Earth. The result of the battle was the death
of Tiamat - a planetary explosion (and incidentally the second of two planetary
explosions which are described in the Epic).
Sixthly, it is incorrect to suggest (as Sitchin did) a break in the battle, pend
ing a future orbital return of Marduk. What the Epic actually says is that 'Vali
ant Marduk... turned back to Tiamat' (Tablet IV line 128). This could be read in
many different ways, but in any event Marduk did not take the form of a physica
l planet with a conventional orbit.
Seventhly, where ancient texts referred to Marduk as travelling between the loca
tions AN.UR and E.NUN, it must be understood that these were not the perigee and
apogee of an orbiting planet . On the contrary, AN.UR was simply the Earth, whi
lst E.NUN was simply the Deep, i.e. Heaven. By the same token, when Marduk saw '
all the quarters of the universe', this meant that his realm spanned the twin pl
anets of Heaven and Earth, for the Sumerian term for 'universe' was AN.KI, meani
ng 'Heaven and Earth'. (Virtually all of the activities of the gods in Sumerian
legends occurred between these two planets, which were at the heart of the explo
ded planet mythos.)
In summary, it must be emphasised that Enuma Elish does not refer to the role of
an intruder planet and it is entirely incorrect to associate Marduk with the Pl
anet X which has been sought by modern astronomers.
So much for Marduk, but what about the Babylonian god Nibiru? Might he be identi
cal to Planet X as Zecharia Sitchin suggested? In 'The Twelfth Planet', Sitchin
presented little or no evidence to support his case that Nibiru was Planet X. Ha
ving presented his theory of Marduk as the intruder planet, Sitchin just baldly
stated that: 'the Sumerians called the planet [of Marduk] NIBIRU'. He then went
on to translate every reference to 'the star' Nibiru as 'the planet' Nibiru.
But was Nibiru really identical to Marduk as Sitchin assumed? In Enuma Elish, fo
llowing Marduk's battle with Tiamat, we find the first mention of Nibiru in Tabl
et V line 6, which reads:Marduk founded the station of Nibiru to determine the h
eavenly bands.
So, if Marduk founded the station of Nibiru, how could Marduk actually be Nibiru
Mesopotamian texts contain very few references to Nibiru and it is not at all cl
ear what Nibiru actually was. Scholars generally suppose that Nibiru was Jupiter
, but this identification is by no means certain. In 'Hamlet's Mill', the writer
s de Santillana and von Dechend covered the various theories of Nibiru - that it
was the planet Jupiter, the star Canopus, or even a comet - but they ended up b
y concluding that Nibiru was 'an unknown factor'.
Who or what, then, was Nibiru? The best description appears in Tablet VII of the
Enuma Elish, where Nibiru was listed as the forty-ninth of Marduk's fifty names
Nibiru shall hold the crossings of Heaven and Earth,So that the gods cannot cros
s above and below; they must wait upon him.Nibiru is the star which is brilliant
in the skies.Verily he holds the central position; they shall bow down to him.S
aying: "He who restlessly crosses the midst of the Sea,Let Crossing be his name,
he who controls its midst...May he shepherd all the gods like sheep.May he vanq
uish Tiamat...
Because he created the spaces and fashioned the firm ground,Father Enlil called
his [Nibiru's] name 'Lord of the Lands'."
On the one hand, the reference to vanquishing Tiamat suggests that Nibiru was Ma
rduk after all. This would imply that Nibiru, like Marduk, was a mythical Titan-
like god, born in the Earth, who crossed metaphysically over the celestial 'Sea'
between Earth and Heaven. But ancient mythology just aint this simple, because
gods often borrowed some of their attributes from other gods.
What kind of celestial body can 'cross the midst of the (celestial) Sea'? There
are two possibilities, a planet or a comet, and both could be described as 'a br
illiant star'. But how was it that either of these bodies managed to 'vanquish T
iamat' and 'fashion the firm ground', thus warranting the title 'Lord of the Lan
The answer, I suggest, is that Nibiru was not any planet or comet that is known
to us today but a manifestation of the exploded planet, which was at the heart o
f all religions in the ancient Near East. According to the beliefs of the ancien
t Egyptians and Sumerians, the exploded planet (God) had laid the foundations of
the Earth at the beginning of time. It would thus follow that Nibiru 'controlle
d the crossings' in the same way that the Sumerian god Utu controlled the crossi
ngs between Heaven and Earth.
Nibiru, then, would have been an invisible, metaphysical, ghost-like god. And, l
ike all exploded planet gods, the invisible Nibiru would have been worshipped in
the form of visible symbols . This would explain why Mesopotamian texts often r
eferred to Nibiru in the manner of a visible star or a comet as, for example, in
the following passage:
The great star:At his appearance, dark red.The Heaven he divides in two,And stan
ds as Nibiru.This reference to Nibiru dividing the Heaven in two echoes the Enum
a Elish where Marduk attacked Tiamat and 'split her like a shellfish into two pa
rts'. Furthermore, the imagery of Nibiru standing between the two halves of the
divided planet echoes the cylinder seal depictions (1) of Marduk standing in the
midst of Tiamat and (2) Utu - the fiery god of the exploded planet - emerging f
rom his twin-peaked mountain in the eastern Sky.
The exploded planet hypothesis also explains why Marduk/Nibiru was said to have
a weapon called 'Deluge' and 'Flooding Storm', for it was a common belief that t
he exploded planet had unleashed a huge flood of waters which fell to the Earth.
Consider, for example, the following passage which refers to Marduk by various
names including SHILIG.LU.DIG, SHUL.PA.KUN.E and, ultimately, Nibiru:
His weapon is the deluge...Supreme, Supreme, Anointed . . .Who like the Sun cros
ses the [two] lands...He who split the occupier [Tiamat] in two, poured her out,
Lord who at Akiti time within Tiamat's battle place reposes,He whose seed are th
e sons of Babylon...He who shall create by his glow...Hero Supervising Lord, Who
collects together the waters,Who with gushing waters,Cleanses the righteous and
the wicked.He who in the twin-peaked mountain,Arrested the . . . When the savan
t shall call out 'Flooding',It is the god Nibiru,It is the Hero, the god with fo
ur heads.The god whose weapon is the Flooding Storm shall turn back;To his resti
ng place he shall lower himself.
In summary, it is my view that neither Marduk nor Nibiru was a planet akin to th
e hypothetical intruder planet known as Planet X.Marduk, for his part, was a Tit
an-god, born of the Earth, who ascended to the heavens metaphysically in order t
o vanquish Tiamat. Admittedly he was then elevated to the status of a planetary
hero, but there is nothing in the Mesopotamian texts to suggest that this conque
ring planet came forth like an intruder planet from the outer realms of our sola
r system. Unfortunately the various Mesopotamian texts which deal with 'the batt
le of the gods' are very vague concerning the origin of the two combatants in th
e original physical battle of the planets.
Nibiru, for his part, appears to be very similar to the Sumerian god Utu (alias
the Akkadian god Shamash). In other words, he was a god of the exploded planet,
but only in the sense of personifying the physical explosion and the subsequent
metaphysical resurrection of the planet. Hence Nibiru, like Utu, controlled the
crossings between Heaven and Earth.
Both Marduk and Nibiru, then, personified - each in their own way - key aspects
of the Babylonian exploded planet cult. They were not, I repeat not, physical in
truder planets. Hence there is not a single ancient text which speaks of the god
s coming down to Earth 'from Nibiru' or 'from Marduk'.
As for the real Planet X, there are scientific clues to suggest that it did once
exist, although it is unlikely to still be attached to our solar system. Furthe
rmore, there is every possibility that Planet X has been discovered - not as an
intact planet but rather in the form of the asteroids of an exploded planet, whi
ch now circulate in the mysterious depths of trans-Neptunian space.

Does our Solar System include an additional - as yet undiscovered - planet?

By Alan F. Alford http://WWW.ERIDU.CO.UK
Author of 'Gods of the New Millennium', 'The Phoenix Solution' and 'When The God
s Came Down'.