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Pluto Regains Its Title As Largest Object In Its Neighborhood 138

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-on-top dept.
sciencehabit writes "In 2005 astronomers discovered Pluto's biggest neighborhood rival: Eris, which they claimed definitely surpassed Pluto in size. Now, as astronomers report an analysis of methane gas in Pluto's atmosphere suggests that Pluto is about 2368 kilometers across, in which case it's larger than Eris and thus the champ of the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt, which boasts more than a thousand known objects revolving around the sun beyond Neptune's orbit."
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Pluto Regains Its Title As Largest Object In Its Neighborhood

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday March 17, 2014 @04:47PM (#46510343) Homepage Journal

    I remember it well -- before the anti Pluto is a Planet conspiracy. Good to see it's getting some recognition, rather than more damnation.

    • I remember it well -- before the anti Pluto is a Planet conspiracy. Good to see it's getting some recognition, rather than more damnation.

      The whole "We changed our mind and decided that Pluto isn't a planet" is bullshit. Just say that Pluto and Eris are both planets and be done with it.

      • by Minwee (522556)

        But you don't have a problem with Ceres no longer being a planet?

        Typical orbitist prejudice.

        • I have no problem with Ceres being a planet, too.

          What is that bickering about calling some rocks planets and not others? Do they get some kind of government pension for being planets like them being some sort of veterans or what's the big deal?

      • It sounds like you can't handle change. Pluto doesn't fit the definition of a planet. It's that simple.
        • by cheesybagel (670288) on Monday March 17, 2014 @07:59PM (#46512045)

          Because the definition of what is a planet changed. For no good reason at all.

          • Distinguishing the major objects from countless minor objects is an awfully good reason. If you're labeling Pluto and Jupiter as a the same category of thing, your categorization system is hopelessly stupid.
          • by Sique (173459)
            Because there wasn't a definition of "planet" before (except member of the {Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto} set), there was no definition that could have changed.

            By the way, there was a time, when it was the {Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus} set, as Ceres was discovered in 1801, and Neptune in 1846. Ceres got thrown out, and Neptune was included. And no one was complaining about arbitrarily changing a non-existant definition.

      • 19th Century: Saying "We changed our mind and decided that Ceres isn't a planet" is bad. Just say that Ceres and Pallas and Vesta and Hyperion and ... and ... and ... and ... are planets and be done with it.
        • by Xtifr (1323)

          Except that only Ceres is big enough to have become a spheroid under the pressure of its own gravity. Which is actually a pretty significant feature (unlike the orbit nonsense), and a fairly solid reason for putting something in a separate category from "random rock".

          Vesta was actually on the bubble for a while. Despite the big chunk missing from one side, the final decision about whether it would be a dwarf planet or asteroid wasn't made until the Dawn mission gave us a better close-up look.

          • by Sique (173459)
            Mimas is much smaller than Ceres and it is spherical. The only reason Mimas is not a planet is, because it's a moon. So it would be quite possible that we discover spherical objects (or at least objects in hydrostatical equilibrum, as even Jupiter or Saturn are not spherical) which are much smaller than Ceres and not orbiting a planet.
      • by Valdrax (32670)

        The whole "We changed our mind and decided that Pluto isn't a planet" is bullshit. Just say that Pluto and Eris are both planets and be done with it.

        Define "planet" in a meaningful, non-arbitrary way that does not include dozens of other bodies not traditionally recognized as planets in our solar system (e.g. Ceres). It's believed the Kuiper belt has hundreds of dwarf planets. You want to promote them all just to not have to give up a mnemonic from childhood?

        • Sure. All objects named after the God of The Underworld and radioactive elements Shalt Be Planets.

          It's not arbitrary either because I say so.

        • Anything that orbits the Sun directly in a fairly circular orbit is a planet. Why shouldn't Ceres be one?

          And with stuff like Wikipedia, who the hell needs to remember something like that? If you really need to do a classification, go for the time of their discovery, i.e. split them up in 3 groups, the "ancient" ones (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Satur), the "modern" ones (Uranus, Ceres, Neptune) and the "new" ones (everything since).

          Where's the big deal?

          • Yes! Why shouldn't it be a planet too. It costs the same.

          • by Valdrax (32670)

            Anything that orbits the Sun directly in a fairly circular orbit is a planet. Why shouldn't Ceres be one?

            Do comets count? How "off" of an orbit do you have to be not to count (and yet for Pluto to count).

            Where's the big deal?

            Where's the big deal in Pluto not being a planet?

            • > Do comets count?

              The distinction between comets and asteroids is no longer scientifically valid. By composition, comets and outer Solar System bodies are the same. Comets just happen to have orbits that get so close to the Sun they evaporate water and other ices and create a tail. There are intermediate bodies in the asteroid belt and out to about Saturn that give off just a little outgassing, but not enough to create a full tail. "Dead comets" have comet-like orbits, but no longer have any volatile

            • The big deal with Pluto not being a planet is simply that we have to pull together a whole lot of arbitrary definitions to exclude it. Which may turn into a whole different set of nightmares (like, say, "orbital clearing". What about the Trojans? Is Jupiter no planet anymore now? Or do the other objects in the orbit have to have a certain size compared to the "main" body to be considered "negligible"? How much mass compared to the main body may they have? Or do they have to be independent (i.e. not at a Lag

              • by jafac (1449)

                No.

                The big deal with Pluto not being a planet, is that it was discovered by an American, and Americans are butthurt over losing the "credit" for discovering a Planet.

                • I don't give a shit who discovered it. I have to admit, until now I didn't even know who discovered it.

                  I'm not an American (by neither definition). My reason to want to include Pluto (and, for that matter, Ceres) in the list of planets is that it would create a simpler, more elegant definition of planet that is less dependent on future discoveries. With the current definition (especially the "cleared the orbit" bit), planets are just planets so long 'til we find something in their orbit that they haven't cl

        • a mnemonic from childhood?

          Mary's "Virgin" Excuse Made Joseph Suspect Upstairs Neighbour.

          • by Zynder (2773551)
            OMG!! It is supposed to be: Mary's Virgin Excuse Made Joseph Suspect Upstairs Neighbour's PENIS!

            PLUTO- NEVER FORGET!
      • Don't forget Sedna and Quaoar. and Makemake, and Varuna and...

      • by jafac (1449)

        Ah yes.. Eris. Let us STRIVE over it.

    • But ... wouldn't damnation be fitting with something named Pluto?

  • ...Just Served Us Nine Pizzas for the first time in YEARS. We were all getting tired of her serving us Nothing.
  • by Nimey (114278) on Monday March 17, 2014 @05:05PM (#46510577) Homepage Journal

    Eris is a tricksy one.

    • If I had points, I would vote you up. My pineal gland told me to. It also told me to pass the cheese dip, but I'm out of crackers.
      • by Nimey (114278)

        There is no cilantro.

        • by Shadowmist (57488)
          Actually it would be Hail, Eris full of Discord. If you're getting your mythology straight. She started both the first beauty contest, and the Trojan War as a direct result of said contest, in a fit of pique from being excluded from an Olympian social.
  • Her title of largest object in her neighbourhood was reclaimed by Pluto.

    • by mjwx (966435)
      I was once thrown out of a IAU conference for reclassifying Neil DeGrasse Tyson's mother as a dwarf planet.
  • The day we demoted Pluto from planethood everything started going downhill fast.

    First thing we had the biggest recession since the Great Depression. Then there were as series of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. And a DEMOCRAT was elected President! And then there is H1N1!!.

    The fact is you do not want to denigrate objects named after Gods of the Underworld. Seriously you don't mess with stuff belonging to this guy. What if he curses you with a rain of Plutonium? eh?

  • by Yunzil (181064) on Monday March 17, 2014 @06:48PM (#46511417) Homepage

    Mercury is getting smaller and Pluto's getting lllaarrrrger.

  • "I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." -- Pluto

  • ... aw, still not a planet. :-(

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