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Is Pluto A Planet? (Merged Thread)


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#16    Raptor

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 03:46 PM

You'd think that they would be more specific about the mass requirement.


#17    Startraveler

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 04:11 PM

The problem with a set mass requirement is that it's even more arbitrary than the other ideas floating around. There's no physical significance to some random number of kilograms. By defining a planet in terms of hydostatic equilibrium and roundness the IAU is at least mostly letting nature do the deciding for us. Factors like mass, density, compression strength of the materials composing the body, etc are not directly and individually taken into account--they just observe whether or not physics pulls it into a ball. In that sense the simplicity of the definition is a plus.

The big problem that I (and, I think, others) have with it is that it's not a very selective classification. You could be looking at tens or hundreds of new planets. Ceres is a giant rock that this definition turns into a bona fide planet. In that respect I like the idea of asking whether a body could in principle support an atmosphere. After all, when you think of a (rocky) planet you do think of some kind of atmosphere, not pitch black skies in the middle of the day. And that's sort of a loose mass requirement--a good many bodies simply aren't massive enough to hold onto an atmosphere, even a thin one.

So to some extent I like the idea of letting nature decide; a definition that incorporates some natural threshold insteady of an arbitrary manmade litmus test. On the other hand the ideas of Brown and Soter are also pretty appealing, as we should remember this is all just nomenclature. How best can we break things up into categories? In that sense, Ceres is king of the asteroid belt, regardless of its shape. Pluto is definitely in the realm of the Kuiper Belt Objects, as are the even bigger things out past it. The four terrestrial and four gas giants are planets either by virtue of not fitting into any other classification scheme or by Soter's μ definition.

Edited by Startraveler, 18 August 2006 - 04:12 PM.


#18    Mekorig

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 10:03 AM

Astronomers attempt to define planets

By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 41 minutes ago

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Pity poor Pluto: After decades of being confused with a cartoon dog and enduring ridicule as a puny poser, the solar system's consummate cling-on is now in danger of losing its status as a planet.
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Leading astronomers vote Thursday on new guidelines that for the first time would define what is and isn't a planet. Unfortunately for the ninth rock from the sun, they seemed intent on demoting Pluto to a "dwarf" — a step below Earth and the seven other "classical" planets.

Fans of Pluto, which was discovered in 1930, will go into orbit if the International Astronomical Union downgrades it. But under pressure from opponents, the organization has backed off its original plan to retain Pluto's status and bring three other objects into the cosmic club.

If the 2,500 astronomers from 75 nations meeting in Prague agree, Earth's neighborhood will officially shrink to eight planets from the traditional nine.

"There would be only eight planets, plus the dwarf planets," said Japanese astronomer Junichi Watanabe, a member of the IAU's planet definition committee.

"Some say, 'No, Pluto is a nice planet'" and should remain one, Watanabe said. "But this is a natural way to draw a line."

Resolutions being considered by the group, the official arbiter of heavenly bodies, would define a planet as "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

Anything less would be either a dwarf planet, as in Pluto's case, or a "small solar system body," which would cover many asteroids, comets or other natural satellites.

It was unclear how Pluto's possible demotion could affect the mission of
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which earlier this year began a 9 1/2-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.

Astronomers want to draw a sharp distinction between the eight "classical planets" — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — and Pluto, which is smaller than Earth's moon, no larger than many objects in its area and has an eccentric orbit.

Joining it as dwarfs would be its largest moon, Charon; the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted; and a recently discovered object known as 2003 UB313 and nicknamed Xena.

Just a week ago, all three objects were poised to become planets under an initial draft definition that would have created a new class of planetary objects to be dubbed "plutons."

But that idea left many astronomers cold, triggering days of spirited and sometimes combative debate that led to the latest proposal to dump Pluto.

Many believe there's simply no scientific justification to grant full planet status to most of what's floating in the vast sea of rocks that reside in the Kuiper Belt — a mysterious, disc-shaped zone beyond Neptune containing thousands of comets and planetary objects.

Forget the term "pluton" — it's already history, replaced by "plutonium object."

The IAU backed off after getting dozens of objecting e-mails from scientists, including geologists who pointed out — somewhat embarrassingly to astronomers — that "pluton" is already a prominent term in volcano science for deep igneous rock formations.

"What were they thinking?" said Allen F. Glazner, a geologist at the University of North Carolina. "It would be like botanists trying to distinguish between trees and shrubs and coming up with the term 'animal.'"

Suddenly, the future looks dim for much-maligned Pluto, named for the God of the underworld.

Its underdog status has inspired scores of tributes, including one by New York folk singer Christine Lavin that laments: "I guess if Pluto showed up at a planet convention, the bouncer at the door might have to ban it."

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#19    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 01:44 PM

I  have merged four seperate threads into one in the hope that it will make it easier to follow this unfolding story.

Waspie_Dwarf

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#20    FireMoon

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 02:11 PM

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/5282440.stm   So back to 8 planets in the solar system...


#21    Shuriken

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 02:15 PM

Pluto gets pwned  hmm.gif

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#22    wazoo

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 02:48 PM

This really messes up that remembering thing:

My
Very
Eager
Mother
Just
Served
Us
Nine
Pizzas

no.gif

user posted imagepluto

Edited by wazoo, 24 August 2006 - 02:49 PM.

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#23    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 02:51 PM

Quote


This really messes up that remembering thing:

My
Very
Eager
Mother
Just
Served
Us
Nine
Pizzas

no.gif

:bye: pluto

You just have to remember that the pizza got eaten. original.gif

The alternative proposal, 12 planets with another 8 possibly to be added later and maybe thousands more to be discovered would have been much more difficult to create a mnemonic for.

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#24    Super Pancake

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 03:45 PM

3 minutes ago

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.
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After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is — and isn't — a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one.

Although astronomers applauded after the vote, Jocelyn Bell Burnell — a specialist in neutron stars from Northern Ireland who oversaw the proceedings — urged those who might be "quite disappointed" to look on the bright side.

"It could be argued that we are creating an umbrella called 'planet' under which the dwarf planets exist," she said, drawing laughter by waving a stuffed Pluto of Walt Disney fame beneath a real umbrella.


The decision by the prestigious international group spells out the basic tests that celestial objects will have to meet before they can be considered for admission to the elite cosmic club.

For now, membership will be restricted to the eight "classical" planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

Instead, it will be reclassified in a new category of "dwarf planets," similar to what long have been termed "minor planets." The definition also lays out a third class of lesser objects that orbit the sun — "small solar system bodies," a term that will apply to numerous asteroids, comets and other natural satellites.

It was unclear how Pluto's demotion might affect the mission of
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which earlier this year began a 9 1/2-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.

The decision at a conference of 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries was a dramatic shift from just a week ago, when the group's leaders floated a proposal that would have reaffirmed Pluto's planetary status and made planets of its largest moon and two other objects.

That plan proved highly unpopular, splitting astronomers into factions and triggering days of sometimes combative debate that led to Pluto's undoing.

Now, two of the objects that at one point were cruising toward possible full-fledged planethood will join Pluto as dwarfs: the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted, and 2003 UB313, an icy object slightly larger than Pluto whose discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, has nicknamed "Xena."

Charon, the largest of Pluto's three moons, is no longer under consideration for any special designation.

Brown was pleased by the decision. He had argued that Pluto and similar bodies didn't deserve planet status, saying that would "take the magic out of the solar system."

"UB313 is the largest dwarf planet. That's kind of cool," he said.

source
did it really matter why does it feel like they only did this just to get on the news


#25    Raptor

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 03:49 PM

So there aren't any Plutons? hmm.gif


#26    frogfish

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 04:36 PM

So it has finally shrunken to 8...No plutons.

If we considered Plutons as planets, our solar system would be growing every couple years.

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#27    Hazzard

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 04:37 PM

I like this outcome much better. I have always thought of Pluto being anything other than an official planet; its composition being a Kuiper Belt Object that just happens to be large. If the 12 planet proposal was approved, I can see out Solar System growing even larger as larger KBO’s are discovered - and the thought of labelling a large asteroid a planet seems silly to me.



http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2006/08...o-not-a-planet/



IAU 2006 General Assembly: Result of the IAU Resolution votes
24. August 2006, Prague

http://www.iau2006.org/mirror/www.iau.org/iau0603/index.html

Edited by hazzard, 24 August 2006 - 04:39 PM.

I still await the compelling Exhibit A.

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#28    SOTU

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 07:59 PM

Hello, new to the board.  I too read the news this morning that Pluto is no longer being titled a planet.  Pluto has been debated since it's discovery back in 1930 whether to be titled a planet or asteroid.  We must keep in mind that back then we did not have tools such as the Hubble Space Telescope (I want one).  

Anyway, this news today kind of contradicts the new released about a week ago that Astronomers planed on boosting our solar system to 12 planets.  They also propose keeping Pluto in the club.  Guess not!


#29    Copyright

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 08:22 PM

I think they're going to realize they made a huge mistake. tomorrow morning 60,000 people who opposed the plan with set fire to the building where the astronomers had their conference. They will overthrow the astronomers, and the government, and will force pluto back into planethood. if all that doesn't happen,....... science books are going to be very empty, and teachers will implode.   Plus, Last year, the astronomers classified a 10th planet, called Quauar. They forgot to mention that today.

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#30    Startraveler

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 08:26 PM

Quote

tomorrow morning 60,000 people who opposed the plan with set fire to the building where the astronomers had their conference. They will overthrow the astronomers, and the government, and will force pluto back into planethood. . . teachers will implode.


Sounds like it's going to be rough. user posted image






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