Tuesday, August 02, 2005

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."


At August 02, 2005 6:19 PM, Blogger erp said...

Astrologers have long predicted a tenth planet, Vulcan would be discovered. It's a wonder how the ancients knew things unknowable with the means available to them at the time.

At August 02, 2005 7:32 PM, Blogger Fjordman said...

Astrology is nonsense. They never predicted the discovery of the previous 3 planets. If Pluto and this new object are to be viewed as planets, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of more planets out there.

At August 02, 2005 7:49 PM, Blogger Rune said...

A tenth, eleventh or twentieth planet is mostly a matter of definition. Of course it is a great honor to be the man that discovers a planet, but rather than accepting more planets, the ninth planet, Pluto, due to its small size and irregular orbit, should probably be demoted to non-planet status. There are millions of pieces of rock and ice in orbit of the sun, many which are larger than Pluto.

At August 02, 2005 7:52 PM, Blogger Rune said...

Anyway I propose Diana (Artemis) for the 10th. A cold maiden.

At August 02, 2005 7:55 PM, Blogger Fjordman said...

the ninth planet, Pluto, due to its small size and irregular orbit, should probably be demoted to non-planet status.

Pluto is just the first of tens of thousands of objects of similar or larger size in the Kuiper belt. Pluto probably wouldn't be called a planet if it were discovered today.

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At August 03, 2005 12:24 AM, Blogger erp said...

Astrology may or may not be nonsense, but astrologers were the first scientists and philosophers and they mapped the skies long before our modern telescopes and computers.


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