Binary Companion Theory

Researchers at BRI have noticed a number of problems related to the current theory of precession. While VLBI, laser ranging and other related technologies do a good job at determining the earth’s orientation, the sun’s movement through space has not been coordinated with these findings resulting in unintentional bias of precession inputs. In examining the phenomenon of the precession of the equinox (which was the original impetus for the development of lunisolar precession theory) we have found that a moving solar system model is a simpler way to reproduce the same observable without any of the problems associated with current precession theory. Indeed, elliptical orbit equations have been found to be a better predictor of precession rates than Newcomb’s formula, showing far greater accuracy over the last hundred years. Moreover, a moving solar system model appears to solve a number of solar system formation theory problems including the sun’s lack of angular momentum. For these reasons, BRI has concluded our sun is most likely part of a long-cycle binary system.

More importantly, it is primarily our sun’s motion through space (around a common center of mass with its companion) that causes most of the observable we now call “precession”. That’s right, very little of the sun’s observed motion (completing one cycle through all twelve constellations of the zodiac – approximately every 25,000 years), is caused by a “wobbling earth”, maybe only an arc second or two! Most of it is actual motion, not just apparent. Since the time of Copernicus, we have constrained the sun to “not move” by attributing all of its annual 50 arc seconds of motion to a wobbling earth. By freeing up most of this 50” we suddenly have a whole new way to look at our local stellar neighborhood – because our solar system is screaming through space!

While there is no obvious visible companion star to our Sun, there could be a dark binary, such as a brown dwarf or possibly a relatively small black hole, either of which might be very difficult to detect, without accurate and lengthy analysis.

There is also the possibility that our sun might be in a binary or complex gravitational relationship with one of several nearby “visible” stars, like Barnard’s star, the fastest moving star in the sky, which will likely be our closest star in about 10,500 years. Or that we may have some gravitational relationship with the star Sirius. These scenarios, impossible to imagine if the sun itself is not moving, are suddenly easy to understand once we free up the 50 arc seconds of motion that is there for all to see but that had been argued away as an artifact of a wobbling earth.

It is possible that it may be a more complex problem and might require thinking beyond standard Newtonian dynamics such as MOND or MOG or some similar theory (that suggests that the constant of G might be stronger between stellar objects than between planetary objects within the solar system), and this might coincidentally also solve much of the dark matter problem. But really, if give up the archaic idea of an earth wobbling a gigantic 50” p/y (just to hold the sun in place) we probably don’t need any new physics. Of course, there could be many types of unknown and unidentified masses that might cause our solar system to curve through space, including the local stellar cluster and even the galactic center to some small degree, each producing some effect within the total precession observable, but most of these are probably less than an arc second of noise, combined. Consequently, at this point, our work is primarily focused on understanding the precession observable and its nuances as the likely signature of our solar system’s angular velocity around some common center of mass. We believe that this approach of analyzing the precession observable (the sun’s motion relative to the fixed stars as seen from earth) will provide valuable and helpful data regarding the sun’s most likely stellar companion (if one exists).

It is interesting to note that when we started this work in 2004 no one thought there was any big unknown object affecting our solar system. But since that time Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin at Caltech, and other scientists around the world, have found a number of dwarf planets (resulting in the demotion of Pluto). From this, they learned that many have very similar perihelions, and others found unusual resonances in play, and noticed other factors, all leading to the conclusion there has to be something “very big” out there warping our solar system! While their focus is still on a large planet (10-20 earth masses), rather than a star, at least they have joined the search! Their big limiting factor is they have not yet realized that the precession observable is caused by the sun’s motion – so they do not enjoy an extra 50” of solar system motion to work with. Nonetheless, we are very pleased they are looking for something, and believe that when they realize how much the solar system motion they have to work with, they will drop the focus on another planet (which has now eluded them for over five years) and start looking at the bigger picture – including nearby stars!

In summary, beyond direct detection – one way to determine if we are in a binary or multiple-star system is to see if the Sun is curving through space. To us, on Earth, that means we should experience a gradual change in orientation to the fixed stars. Such a phenomenon is exactly what we observe as the age-old, but deeply misunderstood, “precession of the equinox”.

“Eppur Si Muove”