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Neptune May Have Eaten a Planet and Stolen Its Moon

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  • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:36PM (#31588908) Homepage

    I always knew he was a slimey fuck.

  • Silly Goose (Score:4, Informative)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:41PM (#31588996) Journal

    Kronos is the one that eats babies, not Neptune!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pojut (1027544)

      Actually, that would be Saturn. []

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Pojut (1027544)

        Oh, and it's CRONUS, not Kronos...if you're into the whole greek thing :-)

        • Potato Potahto,

          It's a Heracles/Hercules kinda deal.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by d34dluk3 (1659991)

          From []: "Cronus or Kronos"

          The article goes on to say that Saturn is the Romanic version of Kronos.

          So yeah, the original post was perfectly fine. If you're going to be pedantic, at least be correct.

          • He may have been thinking of Chronos [], the personification of time. Keep your Greek deities straight, people!

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by eleuthero (812560)
              The problem is, that Cronus, Chronos, Kronus ... were all iterations of the same general being (much like we have Batman, Batman Forever, Batman (the series), Batman (the animated series) - we are all referring to the same general being and while the description and artwork (and possibly even pronunciation of Bruce Wayne's name) all change, this doesn't change. The same was true for all the myths...
            • Greek deities? Straight? Ha!

        • If you are in the whole greek thing, it is . Can't see a "u" in there. "Cronus" is already a latinized transliteration... if you're into the whole greek thing ;)
          • And slashdot is eating my unicode. What year is this again? Anyway - the straight transliteration is Krónos. The -us ending is basically a latinization already, even if Saturnus is the Roman equivalent to Kronos. Haven't seen the "Cronus" thing up to today, which might be a locally different transliteration habit.
        • Oh, and it's CRONUS, not Kronos...if you're into the whole greek thing :-)

          That is rather strange, as there is no "C" letter in the Greek alphabet, don't you think?

        • Just because the "english" Wikipedia calls it Cronus it is long not right. It is Kronos, and if you insist to write it "more enlish" then it is still Cronos, and not Cronus ... the later would be latin and not greek.


          • Just because the "english" Wikipedia calls it Cronus it is long not right. It is Kronos, and if you insist to write it "more enlish" then it is still Cronos, and not Cronus ... the later would be latin and not greek.


            Um... what? That's an awful lot of mistakes for someone trying to be picky about the correct way to spell something (and I didn't even highlight the lack of capitalisation and generally poor grammar).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DrData99 (916924)
        Did you even read the article you linked to? "It depicts the Greek myth of the Titan Cronus (in the title Romanised to Saturn), who, fearing that his children would overthrow him, ate each one upon their birth."
  • Nuclear? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by EvilBudMan (588716)

    Maybe there is a Nuclear core with fission going on to explain the heat. In fact it is possible that this is happening at the very center of the earth's core. It's hard to say really what caused this. As anyone can guess, I guess.

  • Did it fart out Pluto by any chance? That would explain the orbit of Pluto if it smelled that bad.
  • There is a theory now that it once ate a super-earth in the outer solar system, and kept its moon as some sort of macabre trophy to make sure that Mars and Venus didn't get any big ideas.

    Theories that anthropomorphize planets? Doesn't sound very scientific to me.
    • by creimer (824291)
      Blame all those Saturday morning cartoon shows with anthopomorphize animals and machines.
    • by einhverfr (238914)

      Theories that anthropomorphize planets? Doesn't sound very scientific to me.

      Yeah, well, "Neptune" is linguistically related to "nephew." Sounds like it was anthropomorphized long ago....

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Sorry, I just switched into linguistic nitpicking mode. Nephew is not in any straight way derived from Neptune. The root is way deeper, especially from Proto-Indo-European *hnépts. Cognates include Sanskrit (nápt), Old Persian (nap), Ancient Greek (anepsios) and Old English nefa (see wiktionary for source).
        • by einhverfr (238914)

          That would be a great nitpick it if corresponded to what I said :-)

          • Ok - that was the other way round. Let's try again: Neptune, Etymology: ME L Neptunus, prob. IE *nebhtus base *nebh-, moist (source: Webster). Still no relation to nephew, unless you can show a relation between indoeuropean *nebhtus and protoindoeuropean *hnépts. Linguistical fistfight! Bring it on ;)
    • In defence of the researchers, they were trippin' pretty hard when they wrote that paper, and they still had the good judgment to edit out the chapter that was tentatively titled "the era when the whole fucking sun was like this really intense multicolored strobe light."
    • I think good science requires anthropomorphic theories because it feels insecure.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:51PM (#31589142) Journal

      You should never anthropomorphize planets. They hate that.

    • I concur, and the fact that they call a solid planet that "might" have been larger then Earth "Super Earth" says even more volumes about their science. But then again, maybe they just got some super creative genius to write up the press release.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bh_doc (930270)

      The theory doesn't anthropomorphize the planet. The article describing the theory does, because that makes it more accessible and interesting to general readers.

      Remember, not everyone is an emotionless nerd. Some of us like allegories.

  • So THAT's what happened to Pluto!

  • by timepilot (116247) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:45PM (#31589056)

    This story should be tagged om-nom-nom.

  • Velikovsky (Score:4, Funny)

    by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:46PM (#31589082) Journal
    Looks like someone signed Velikovsky's book [] out of the library recently.
  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:48PM (#31589100)
    ' Neptune May Have Eaten a Planet and Stolen Its Moon'

    In this way, it is just like Rosie O'Donnell.
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by tommeke100 (755660)
      "it is hard to understand how Uranus and Neptune, the two outermost planets, managed to get so big"
  • he eats planets for lunch
  • I wonder if something like what's described regarding Uranus and Neptune swapping orbits could also play a role in Uranus being on it's side.

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      I wonder if something like what's described regarding Uranus and Neptune swapping orbits could also play a role in Uranus being on it's side.

      That whole thing sounds kinda kinky.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:52PM (#31589150)
    Don't anthropomorphize the planets... they hate it when you do that!
  • by bynary (827120) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @05:07PM (#31589314) Homepage
    This "news" article reads like the "pot circle" scenes from That 70's Show:

    "Oooh, oooh, I know! First the planets form close to the sun!"

    "No way! What if they then moved away from the sun and some of the planets ate the other planets!"

    "You're blowin' my mind, man!"

    "I could eat a planet right now. Anyone have a Mars bar?"

    "Mars bar...Marssss bar...Marrrrrrrssssss bar...that's funny..."
  • And I thought Sailor Moon was the Planet eating fatass....

  • it's threads like these that make me wish i'd be less compulsive in disposing of my mod points...i had 15 bright, shiny ones yesterday, and wasted them all modding people UP...

    • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @05:52PM (#31589816)

      Yeah, every day this place hits new lows. This is an interesting story on planetary formation and the complex unravelling of the history of the solar system using a mix of precise observation and computer modelling, and the comments are almost exclusively juvenile jokes and complaints that the proposed mechanisms sound stupid.

      My question is: is there anywhere that is remotely like /. used to be (say a few months ago, even) when we still got the odd intelligent comment that added something useful to the story?

  • by Wiarumas (919682) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @05:47PM (#31589770)
    First Pluto and now this. Neptune is no longer a planet, but rather a cannibal and a thief.
  • by SteeldrivingJon (842919) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @05:49PM (#31589784) Homepage Journal

    Was I really the first person to say that on this thread?

  • This will only encourage the Velikovskoids. []
  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @06:20PM (#31590208) Journal

    Some may wonder what need there is for a third body at all - Triton wanders too close to Neptune, it gets captured, right?

    The reason is conservation of energy: as Triton wanders near Neptune, it falls into Neptune's gravity well and accelerates, so it is going too fast to remain in orbit. Triton at infinity has more energy than Triton in orbit, so to get captured it has to lose energy, and that energy has to go somewhere.

    With a few exceptions, three body interactions (e.g. Neptune, Superearth, Triton) are chaotic, and often end with one of the bodies being expelled and the remaining two left in orbit. The lightest body is the most likely to be expelled. This scenario has Superearth being expelled rather than Triton, which is somewhat unlikely but not impossible. (It is too long since I studied this for me to quantify 'most likely to be expelled'.)

    It really doesn't seem to me that you need Superearth to explain Triton. The third body could very easily have been a normal Neptunian moon, which is now unobserved somewhere in the Oort cloud or expelled from the solar system entirely. (Could it be Pluto? This was thought of and rejected [] a long time ago.)

    Disclaimer: All these comments are on the basis of reading the New Scientist summary, not the real paper.

    • by simonbp (412489) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @08:49PM (#31592146) Homepage

      The reason we invoked the extra planet was that in these three-body encounters, it's much more likely that the more massive object gets ejected and the smaller captured. However, the surveys of the Kuiper Belt are such that if Triton had larger twin, we'd have found it by now. But noone has, so a different capture method remains plausible. The existence of the extra planet isn't actually the hard part to prove, but rather that it impacted instead of being tossed by Neptune down to Saturn or Jupiter, who could then throw it out of the solar system.

      Still lots of work to be done...

      -Simon Porter, Coauthor

      • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @10:16PM (#31592928) Journal

        "'s much more likely that the more massive object gets ejected and the smaller captured."

        How does this work? My memory from a few lectures 20 years ago is the opposite, but clearly you're more reliable than I am. I thought it was an equipartition of energy thing - interactions will tend to divide the energy evenly between the objects, which means the lightest is the most likely to acquire escape velocity. Is it that ejecting the lightest object doesn't usually take away enough energy to leave the other two bound?

        If you're trying to drop Superearth into Neptune, then it has to both get very low angular momentum and at the same time high energy (else Triton would not be bound to Neptune). This seems a very narrow target to hit. If you're arguing relative probabilities (it is more likely that the more massive object gets ejected) then you need to establish that the unlikelihood of impact is outweighed by the gain in likelihood of losing the larger rather than smaller object.

        It had not occurred to me that the disappearance of the third body could be a two stage process: ejected from Neptune orbit, then secondarily ejected from the solar system by Saturn or Jupiter. What are the odds that an object ejected from Neptune orbit will eventually be ejected from the solar system? My gut feeling is that the odds are pretty good, that falling into a resonance with one of the giant planets or being ejected are the only long term options. (Where 'long term' I'd guess to be thousands or millions of years, not billions.)

        Whether absorbed or ejected, this interaction with Superearth would tend to increase Neptune's orbit's eccentricity. How does the expected increase in eccentricity compare to the current eccentricity of Neptune's orbit?

        My counter hypothesis is that the third body was a pre-existing but now lost Neptunian moon. Now that I think on it, equally plausible is that Triton was this original moon (originally in a regular prograde orbit) and an outside object came in, formed a 3 body system for a while, and then was ejected.

        • by simonbp (412489) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @12:59AM (#31594130) Homepage

          what happens in these binary captures is that you have two objects orbiting around each other and falling at essentially escape velocity towards Neptune. If it were just one object, it would either hit Neptune or zoom past and leave Neptune's sphere of influence. But since there are two objects, one is going slightly faster than escape velocity, and the other slightly slower. If there is no collision, then one that is going slower can be captured, while the other is ejected from the system. If the two objects are not of equal mass, then the smaller is going to be moving faster than the larger, and thus there is much wider window of opportunity for it to be captured. So, it's not impossible for the larger to be captured, just much less likely.

          In the case of a collision, it is more like likely that the larger will impact, as the center of mass is closer to it, and impacts are the merging of centers of mass. In this case, we think that Triton would be in a sufficiently wide orbit that it would watch the impact from a distance, and then either ejected (if its orbital velocity was in the impact direction) or captured (if its orbital velocity was in the opposite direction). So, Amphtrite could have had multiple moons, but Triton was the one on the correct quarter of the orbital phase to be captured.

          Simon Porter

          • Thanks - that all makes sense.

            I was thinking in terms of more elaborate interactions where the bodies do multiple 'orbits' before one is eventually ejected, rather than a single pass. That is why all my instincts were going astray.

            (My encounter with three body systems was in the context of binary+single star meet in a globular cluster. As I recall, if the binary is loosely bound, they tend to dance for a while before ejecting the lightest star. If the binary is tightly bound, it tends to get more tightly bo

  • and excuse the gas....

  • Son of a bitch, that's where my SuperEarth went!

  • Cannibal? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Mick R (932337)
    Which planet did it eat? Planet Kenny? The bastard!

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