Nibiru: Conspiracy Theorists Think Planet X Will Kill Us All Soon—here's Why They're Wrong

The apocalypse is upon us. Again.

If conspiracy theorists are to be believed, a giant mysterious planet is set to wreak destruction across Earth, the UK's Daily Express reports. Predicted to appear in the skies on April 23, it should set off earthquakes and volcanic eruptions with its massive gravitational pull. Variously called Nibiru, Planet X and Wormwood, the incoming behemoth is allegedly predicted in the Bible.

But don't start prepping your underground shelter just yet, as this conspiracy theory is absolutely bogus.

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This image depicts planet Earth in great detail. If conspiracy theorists are to be believed, our planet could be under threat from a mysterious unknown "Planet X" JPL/NASA

First predicted back in 1995 by Nancy Lieder, founder of a website that allegedly relays alien messages to earthlings, the tale is now largely peddled by "Christian numerologist" David Meade. Cushioned in a heady swaddle of mathematics, biblical prophecy and astronomy, the concept would make a great science fiction tale.

Meade does some biblical gymnastics to link characters from the book of Revelation to various celestial alignments and a devastating but as-yet invisible incoming planet. It's basically astrology, loosely inspired by the Bible.

April 23 is the latest date to fit Meade's astronomical paradigm. He has predicted the end of the world before, even writing a book titled Planet X - The 2017 Arrival.

Impossible Planet

There are many reasons to doubt this conspiracy theory, with the most obvious, perhaps, being a lack of astronomical evidence for this supposed behemoth.

Large objects like planets wield some serious gravity. Gravity drives our solar system's orbital gymnastics. It's why the planets orbit the sun, and moons orbit some of the planets.

If a massive planet is careering towards Earth, it should be messing up the alignment of other planets on the way. "Its gravity would be throwing all the other planetary orbits out," Ian Howarth, a professor of astronomy at University College London, explained to Newsweek.

A "Planet X" Might Actually Exist

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An artist's concept of Planet 9, sometimes referred to as Planet X. Planet 9 is a hypothesized ninth planet in our solar system. It is not about to kill us all. Caltech/R Hurt (IPAC)

This wacky conspiracy has become tangled with some real science. Astronomers around the world really are searching for a "Planet X." As-yet-unseen planets may by hiding in our solar system—but don't worry, they're not headed for Earth.

"We've known of the planets out to Saturn since antiquity, of course—then William Herschel discovered Uranus, in the course of a systematic survey of the heavens. But then, Uranus' orbital motion turned out to be not quite as predicted," Howarth said.

This weird orbit was being thrown off by another, then unknown, planet: Neptune.

"Various other "Planet X" hypotheses have pretty much the same basis —unexpected orbital characteristics of known planets," Howarth explained. Mysterious hidden planets aren't always the explanation for these strange orbital patterns, however. Mercury's orbit, he added, had mystified astronomers for years. Using Albert Enstein's theory of gravity instead of Isaac Newton's version explained the strange orbital movements.

In recent years, Caltech researchers have come close to pinning down a hidden ninth planet. Using sophisticated mathematics, they have predicted that "Planet 9" could be a gas giant about the same size as Neptune and with a mass 10 times that of Earth. Their calculations suggest it takes a highly elongated orbit stretching way out past Pluto.

"The case for the current "Planet X" is not quite so clear-cut—it's based on some orbital coincidences rather than systematic deviations of orbits from predictions—but the principle is the same, and the case is sufficiently strong that it's being looked for in several sky surveys," Howarth said.

Caltech astronomer Mike Brown—one of the Planet 9-hunters—might sum up this latest viral end-of-days theory best with a 2016 tweet pinned to the top of his feed reading: "Weekly PSA: no, in fact the earth is NOT going to be destroyed by [fill in crazy thing seen on internet here] next week. Thanks for asking."

So, now we've cleared that up, let's all give some thought to the real victims of Nibiru—all the other Meades out there.

Nibiru: Conspiracy Theorists Think Planet X Will Kill Us All Soon—here's Why They're Wrong | Tech & Science