It doesn’t exist

For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. They practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.
Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.


Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Fomalhaut b

In a preprint paper published today on the Los Alamos astro-ph website, astronomers have concluded that the exoplanet orbiting the star Formalhaut might not exist. This planet, the first exoplanet ever thought to be directly imaged in visible light, was first described in a paper published in 2008, and was actually tracked in its orbit over several years, as shown in the image on the right.

The new research used the Spitzer Space Telescope to see if the planet’s heat could be detected in infrared wavelengths. Unfortunately, the scientists found nothing.

No signature is found at the position where Fomalhaut b would be expected.

The scientists did detect another infrared source in a different location in the well-documented dust disk that surrounds Formalhaut, but even this had too weak a signal to be considered an actual planet. The scientists instead concluded that both their detection and the 2008 detection were instead short-lived clouds of dust that became visible when the orbiting dust became temporarily more concentrated, much like water clouds in our atmosphere will ebb and flow as they move through the sky.

Concerning the visible-light point source, its under-lying physics is unclear, but the only hypothesis that can be shown to reasonably fit all existing data is an optically thin dust cloud, which is transient or has a transient component.

What does this result mean for exoplanet research? It shows that even with all the recent exoplanet discoveries there remain many unknowns and uncertainties in this field. Scientists must remain vigilant and skeptical. What they think they might have found yesterday could prove ephemeral today.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *