Letter | Published:

On companions and comets

Nature volume 274, pages 667669 (17 August 1978) | Download Citation



HARRISON1 has recently hypothesised that the Sun possesses a companion star, in order to explain an anomaly in the distribution on the sky of pulsars which lose speed very slowly. This is a controversial suggestion mainly because proper motion sky surveys down to at least 14th mag (ref. 2) should have detected such an object. However, one can imagine various objects which might fulfill the constraint of not being visible. Harrison suggested that crystallised white dwarfs, red dwarfs and black dwarfs could be in a bound orbit about the Sun, and neutron stars and black holes would more likely be in an unbound orbit, due to the supposedly explosive natures of their births. Whatever the luminosities of these objects3 they must produce an acceleration of the barycentre of the solar system to remove the pulsar anomaly. We discuss here the effect of this acceleration on the orbits of the ‘new’ comets, and how it rules out the possibility of a solar companion in a bound orbit.

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    Catalogue of 1849 Stars with Proper Motion >0.5″, Minnesota (1955).

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  1. Max-Planck-Institut für Physik und Astrophysik, München 40, Germany

    • J. KIRK


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