New Planet has Pluto-like Surface
Gemini Samples Spectrum Of 2003 UB313: Pluto-Like Surface
The NIRI spectra shows strong signatures of methane ice, remarkably similar to the spectrum of Pluto, which is also dominated by methane ice in near-infrared observations. The same features are readily apparent in both the Pluto and the 2003 UB313 spectra. Trujillo states, "We still do not know much about this object, however, it is clear that it is very similar to Pluto in both size and composition, at least upon first glance." The presence of methane ice is unusual in that it indicates a primitive surface that has not likely been heated significantly since the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago.
Object Bigger than Pluto Discovered, Called 10th Planet
Astronomers have discovered an object in our solar system that is larger than Pluto. They are calling it the 10th planet, but already that claim is contested. The new world's size is not at issue. But the very definition of planethood is. It is the first time an object so big has been found in our solar system since the discovery of Pluto 75 years ago. The object is inclined by a whopping 45 degrees to the main plane of the solar system, where most of the other planets orbit. That's why it eluded discovery: nobody was looking there until now, Brown said. Some astronomers view it as a Kuiper Belt object and not a planet. The Kuiper Belt is a region of frozen objects beyond Neptune. Pluto is called a Kuiper Belt object by many astronomers. Brown himself has argued in the past for Pluto's demotion from planet status, because of its diminutive size and eccentric and inclined orbit. But today he struck a different note. "Pluto has been a planet for so long that the world is comfortable with that," Brown said in the teleconference. "It seems to me a logical extension that anything bigger than Pluto and farther out is a planet."