I've always been interested in Sitchin's work because I think it is at least partially correct, and much of what he claims is in line with my own work with Richard Hoagland. Part of that was covered in Dark Mission, specifically where I mentioned my interactions with Dr. Gary Neugebauer around an object IRAS spotted in 1982 that was the subject of a Washington Post front page story. Since then, I've been trying to track down more information on the object with little success.
I posted what I thought was a helpful reply, but it was prevented from appearing on the blog.
Luckily, I'm able to help you. Research on the web lasting about ten minutes reveals what your patient work since 1982 did not -- an article written by astronomer Thomas J. Chester of IPAC (the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center) at Caltech.
Read the piece for yourself, Mike. It's not that long. Or, if you're too busy dating strippers and driving fast cars, please pay attention to these extracts:
"These [four] objects were therefore "mystery objects", at least until the mysteries were solved in short order. These sources all turned out to be distant galaxies except one which was a wisp of Galactic infrared cirrus (Soifer 1987, Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics 25:187), and no such source has ever turned out to be a solar-system object."
"Nearly everyone on the IRAS Science Team who looked at the early IRAS data found at least one source that they initially thought could be "the tenth planet". Many of these observations turned out to be IRC+10216, a bright previously known source which is almost exactly in the ecliptic plane (the plane of the planets). I found a 12 µm source at high galactic latitude without an optical counterpart which was thought to be a potential brown dwarf for about a week, during which time rumors circulated through the astronomical community. The rumor came back to me in a much-changed form, as all rumors do, into a possible report of a tenth planet, so this could be another source of a "mystery object". This 12 µm source turned out to be a peculiar carbon star, quite distant."
"From Carol Lonsdale:
I may also have traced the origin of the actual rumor. It could be due to an investigation into a strange source found in the galaxy M31. Several IRAS team members identified this bright and extremely cold source close to the nucleus of M31, and studied it closely because it had such peculiar characteristics for actually being in the galaxy. At one point it was called ``the mystery source''. For a time it was believed to be in the solar system because it was thought there was evidence for motion. However that evidence was finally shown to be due to hysteresis (the after effect on the detectors of crossing bright sources) due to the nucleus of M31; the hysteresis caused the effect to occur in different directions on scans passing over M31 at different angles."
Even more accessible to stripper-chasers and fast-car-drivers is this brief summary (added in January 2008) from the IRAS wikipedia article:
"The observatory also made headlines briefly with the discovery of an "unknown object" that was at first described as "possibly as large as the giant planet Jupiter and possibly so close to Earth that it would be part of this solar system." However, further analysis revealed that, of several unidentified objects, nine were distant galaxies and the tenth was "intergalactic cirrus". None were found to be Solar System bodies."