by Andy Lloyd
from DarkStar1 Website
It seems that we will have to wait until 2012-13 before we can get an answer to the question of whether a multiple-Jupiter-mass planet lurks out there unseen.
WISE, the powerful new infra-red survey, is hard at work hunting down brown dwarfs, and any Dark Star remaining to be discovered in the solar system should get spotted by this device.
But it won't be until 2012 or 2013 before we know for sure.
That's longer than I thought it would take, but makes sense given the fact that such an object would be very slow moving among the field of stars, and needs to be pinpointed by its relative motion in the sky, as well as by its bright infra-red signature.
Our local neighborhood brown dwarf population is expected to show up in the WISE data:
For many reasons, I suspect that the Dark Star lies near to the galactic plane, in the constellation of Sagittarius.
This is one of the most difficult constellations to pinpoint solar system objects among the intense fields of background stars. It would generally be avoided by astronomers hunting for, say, Kuiper Belt objects. It sounds like the WISE team plan to take that constellation on, just like the rest.
But it won't be easy!