Discovered! The 10th Planet

Object Bigger than Pluto Discovered, Called 10th Planet

Pluto, the on again, off again planet whose designation seems to shift with the winds of conjecture would, if this solitary sphere could indeed hold on to it’s planetary designation, be the ninth planet in our solar system. Not to be confused with the yet to be found Planet Nine, which until today lurks in the blackness of space unwilling to give up its location.

So, if Pluto is indeed the ninth planet, that means a new planet discovered out in the Kuiper belt at the edges of our Heliosphere would be the tenth planet.

If the debate about what objects should be considered planets rages on, maybe the discussion about what should be included in our solar system is up for debate as well because this planet is way, way out there.

The planetary object designated as 2003 UB313 is 97 AU from the Sun. An AU or astronomical unit is measured as the distance between the Sun and Earth. Pluto’s orbit ranges from 30 to 49 AU.

If 2003 UB313 is twice the distance from the Sun as Pluto, this new planet is really far away. The Heliopause, the boundary of the Heliosphere, a vast bubble-like region that encapsules our solar system in plasma and solar wind, is considered the edge of our solar system lies somewhere between 94 and 123 AU.

So, if 2003 UB313 is 97 AU away from the Sun, is it actually in our solar system?

Mike McCoy

Object Bigger than Pluto Discovered, Called 10th Planet

By Robert Roy Britt 

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 announcement, made today by Mike Brown of Caltech, came just hours after another newfound object, one slightly smaller than Pluto, was revealed in a very confusing day for astronomers and the media.

The new object, temporarily named 2003 UB313, is about three times as far from the Sun as is Pluto.

“It’s definitely bigger than Pluto,” said Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy. The object is round and could be up to twice as large as Pluto, Brown told reporters in a hastily called NASA-run teleconference Friday evening. His best estimate is that it is 2,100 miles wide, about 1-1/2 times the diameter of Pluto.

One of many?

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.…

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Asteroids: Not Just a Video Game

There are a lot of giant asteroids out in space, and it’s just a matter of time before another one finds a bullseye on Earth. What can we do about it?

Article as posted on Medium written by: A.S. Deller

Managing the Existential Threat of Asteroids

Our Earth has been struck by asteroids countless times, mostly during the period immediately following our solar system’s formation — thankfully, when there was no life on the planet.

But numerous giant hunks of space rock have hit us in the billions of years since those early days.

Often the terms “asteroid” and “meteoroid” are conflated. They do, in fact, have different definitions. An asteroid is a very large chunk of rock and metal orbiting the Sun, while meteoroids are considerably smaller. When a meteoroid vaporizes in our atmosphere (creating that characteristic “shooting star” trail), it’s called a meteor. And when it makes it through the atmosphere and actually crashed into the Earth’s surface, we call it a meteorite.

The actual size range that classifies something as an asteroid rather than a meteoroid doesn’t have an exact lower limit, with the smallest usually considered “boulder-sized”. The largest known asteroid at this time is Ceres, at nearly 600 miles in diameter. Ceres lies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and is such a large body that we also categorize it as a dwarf planet.

 


Meteor Crater, Arizona. At over 1 km (.74 miles) across, this crater was made by a meteor only 50 meters (160 ft) in diameter. CREDIT: NASA

When a meteor or meteorite hits our atmosphere or surface, it is generally not a threat to many people, and certainly would never be an extinction-level threat. One of the more recent and publicized of such occurrences happened over the Ural region of Russia on February 15, 2013, known as the Chelyabinsk meteor. This began as a 20-ton asteroid but burned off most of that mass in the atmosphere before exploding at an altitude of 18.5 miles with the energy of roughly 30 Hiroshima bombs. The shockwave blew out windows in six regional cities, injuring 1500 people.

This was the largest such meteor explosion since the larger Tunguska event in 1908 which flattened nearly 800 square miles of forest in Siberia. Without the benefit of modern technology to analyze the event, it is still unknown if the Tunguska explosion was caused by an asteroid or a comet, though based on the destruction it is estimated the object was anywhere from 200 to 600 feet in diameter.

There are about 175 known asteroid impact craters on Earth at this time. Arizona’s Meteor Crater (not so original a name, I know) was created about 50,000 years ago, while it is believed the gigantic crater off the Yucatan Peninsula was made 65 million years ago and accounts for the ultimate extinction of the dinosaurs.

 


This image, taken by NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission in 2000, shows a close-up view of Eros, an asteroid with an orbit that takes it somewhat close to Earth.

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