Tuesday, August 02, 2005

So, we have a 10th planet in our solar system

My youngest sister recently informed me that a new planet has been discovered in our solar system... Listed below are some tidbits from news stories that I've gathered:
  • A California astronomer has discovered what he believes is the 10th planet in our solar system.
  • The new planet is currently known as 2003 UB313.
  • 2003 UB313 has been identified as the most distant object ever detected orbiting the sun.
  • An undisclosed name for the planet has been submitted to the International Astronomical Union.
  • The new planet orbits the sun once every 560 years and is now at its farthest point from Earth. In about 280 years, the planet will be as close as Neptune.
  • The planet‘s surface is believed to be predominantly methane, but its size -- about 1,700 miles (2,700 km) in diameter -- qualifies it as a planet.
  • Earth is about 7,900 miles (12,700 km) in diameter.
  • The new planet is believed to be part of the Kuiper Belt, a large ring of icy objects that orbit beyond Neptune and are believed to be remnants ofthe material that formed the solar system.
  • This data was released earlier than planned on due to a hacker threatening to publish it sooner.
  • The new planet went undiscovered for so long because its orbit is tilted at a 45-degree angle to the orbital plane of the other planets, and it travels in an elliptical orbit.
  • The claim that this object is a planet has already been contested.
  • 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.
  • 2003 UB313 appears to be surfaced with methane ice, as is Pluto. That's not the case with other large Kuiper Belt objects, however.
  • NASA effectively endorsed the idea in an official statement that referred to 2003 UB313 as the 10th planet.
  • The rest of the news stories have this same information in them...

ps - hopefully I'll get the fun NYC post up later this evening :-)


At 2:32 PM, Blogger Elvis said...

Write a book. "Astronomy on $5/day." Or "Mortgage Refinancing and the Kuiper Belt."


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