New Planet????

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Grant B, Oct 7, 2002.

  1. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    A new planet we won't explore!

    Frozen world beyond Pluto's orbit is largest solar system find in 72 years
    Mon Oct 7, 1:09 PM ET
    By ANDREW BRIDGES, AP Science Writer
    LOS ANGELES - A billion miles beyond Pluto, astronomers have discovered a
    frozen celestial body 800 miles across (1,287 kilometers) - the biggest find
    in the solar system since the ninth planet was spotted 72 years ago. But
    astronomers do not consider the newfound object a planet.
    The object is about one-tenth the diameter of Earth and orbits the sun once
    every 288 years at a distance of 4 billion miles (6 billion kilometers). It
    is only half the size of Pluto, which some astronomers have come to believe
    should not have been designated a planet at all.
    Planetary astronomer Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology
    in Pasadena and postdoctoral scholar Chadwick Trujillo discovered the object
    in images taken June 4. They were to announce their discovery Monday in
    Birmingham, Alabama, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's
    division of planetary sciences.
    "It's about the size of all the asteroids put together, so this thing is
    really quite big," Brown said.
    The two used a telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego to
    discover the world, provisionally dubbed Quaoar (pronounced kwah-o-wahr), a
    creation force in Southern California Indian mythology. Follow-up
    observations with the Hubble Space Telescope confirmed its size.
    Archival research showed Quaoar had been captured on film as long ago as
    1982, but was never noticed, Brown said. He and Trujillo went back and pored
    over the older images to help pin down the circular path it travels around
    the sun.
    "It could easily have been detected 20 years ago, but it wasn't," Brown
    said.
    Quaoar lies in the Kuiper Belt, a swarm of objects made of ice and rock that
    orbit the sun beyond Neptune. The objects are considered fossil remnants of
    the swirling disk of debris that coalesced to form the solar system roughly
    5 billion years ago. It is also believed to be the source of some comets.
    The belt contains as many as 10 billion objects at least one mile across;
    astronomers estimate five to 10 of those are jumbo-sized.
    "This new discovery fits right in with our expectation that there should be
    a handful or two of objects as large as Pluto," said astronomer David Jewitt
    of the University of Hawaii. Jewitt, with then-colleague Jane Luu,
    discovered the first Kuiper Belt object just a decade ago.
    As larger Kuiper Belt objects turn up, the case for Pluto as a planet
    weakens, astronomers said. Pluto lies within the Kuiper Belt and is
    considered by many merely among the largest of the bunch, and not a planet
    in its own right.
    "It's pretty clear, if we discovered Pluto today, knowing what we know about
    other objects in the Kuiper Belt, we wouldn't even consider it a planet,"
    Brown said.
    Astronomers expect yet-undiscovered Kuiper Belt objects may rival even
    Pluto.
    "An observation like this just confirms that, that we may discover Kuiper
    Belt objects bigger than Pluto," said Frank Summers, an astrophysicist at
    the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
    NASA is considering launching a spacecraft to explore Pluto, its moon,
    Charon, and at least one Kuiper Belt object, but whether it will be funded
    remains unclear. The New Horizons mission could launch as early as 2006, and
    would take about a decade to reach Pluto.
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I had been thinking about posting this earlier, but my space- and astronomy-related threads have done very poorly in the HTF ratings of late. I'm afraid HTF is going to want to buy out my contract.

    Oh, and the planetoid: exciting.
     
  3. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    Jack, just because people don't respond doesn't mean they're not interested. [​IMG]
    I love to read about this stuff, I just don't have much to say about it. When I logged on I figured that either you or Julie K would have posted about it already, if not I was gonna do it. I got beaten anyway. [​IMG]
    Oh, and it IS a planet. It's called "Dave". At least according to Gordon Shumway, aka ALF. [​IMG]
    /Mike
     
  4. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    Jack I thought you were out when I didn't see the post.
     
  5. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    It's an exciting find, but not really a planet.
    But then, I'm one of those cranky people who considers Pluto a whopping big Kuiper belt object and not a planet.
    I'm still waiting for the discovery of Yuggoth [​IMG]
     
  6. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    It is exciting that they finally found "planet x" since the effects on neighbouring planets seemed to indicate that there was another celestial body out there. It is my educated guess [​IMG] that both Pluto and planet x are escaped moons of Neptune, which may account for Neptunes strange rotation around it's equator almost perpendicular to the other planets.
     
  7. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    Actually, Pluto, Quaoar, and Varuna are just big Kuiper Belt Objects - there are at least 10,000 of them and many expect further large ones to be found.

    While exciting, this discovery is not "planet X", although interestingly enough, Quaoar does show up on photos taken during the search for that planet, but the searchers missed it. There doesn't seem to be any current evidence for a large, true planet out there - just lots and lots of KBOs.
     
  8. KyleS

    KyleS Screenwriter

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    So inquiring minds want to know why isnt Pluto really a planet and what does it take to be considered one? Mass, Size, makeup?

    KyleS
     
  9. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    There isn't any one, universally accepted definition of "planet". Strange, but until the discoveries of large Kuiper Belt Objects and planets around other stars (or just drifting in space), there hadn't been much contention. Now there is.

    If found today, Pluto would be classified as a large Kuiper Belt Object.
     
  10. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Anything discovered by a guy named "Clyde" just shouldn't be considered a planet.....[​IMG]
     
  11. KyleS

    KyleS Screenwriter

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  12. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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  13. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Off-topic: Julie's back! So, how'd the visit with Shoggoth go? Get any new tentacles grafted on since last time?

    Mmmmm...1200 km wide snowballs with chocolately sprinkles. I propose sending a giant robotic ice cream scoop over immediately. To heck with mars!
     
  14. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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  15. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Well, tentacles aside, "what Julie said."

    As she noted, if Clyde Tombaugh made his discovery today, astronomers would classify it as one whopper of a Kuiper Belt Object.

    Pluto just doesn't make it when compared with the gas giants and the terrestrials. It's a weird-ass, icy runt that doesn't even have the sense to orbit in the ecliptic. Now how's that for a poor relation?

    Mars and Mercury would shun Pluto at a party. Even the Jovian satellites whisper nasty things about Pluto when the overrated KBO is getting a drink.
     
  16. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    According to Walt, Pluto is a puppy, not a planet....
     
  17. Danny R

    Danny R Supporting Actor

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    The main reason Pluto is still often classified in the planet class is that it has its own moon. Charon is larger than many of the moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn, and definately outclasses those orbiting Mars.

    Of course these two objects are siblings from the same source, and Charon and Pluto are gravitationally locked, so that Charon is always over one point of Pluto and the view never changes.
     
  18. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    All I want to know is what are the implications with the discovery of this "planet"? In other words, what do we hope to learn from all this?
     
  19. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    At the least, more about the Solar System. Isn't that enough? And at the most, who knows? It could possibly alter our understanding of how the planets and maybe even our Sun were formed. And many other things. It's a breathtaking discovery. It makes me wonder about the overall nature of the space between the stars. I want to know more. JB
     
  20. KyleS

    KyleS Screenwriter

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