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Can We Call Pluto and Charon a 'Binary Planet' Yet? 115

Posted by timothy
from the complex-gyrations dept.
astroengine writes The debate as to whether Pluto is a planet or a dwarf planet rumbles on, but in a new animation of the small world, one can't help but imagine another definition for Pluto. As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft continues its epic journey into the outer solar system, its Kuiper Belt target is becoming brighter and more defined. Seen through the mission's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera, this new set of observations clearly shows Pluto and its biggest moon Charon locked in a tight orbital dance separated by only 11,200 miles. (Compared with the Earth-moon orbital separation of around 240,000 miles, you can see how compact the Pluto-Charon system really is.) Both bodies are shown to be orbiting a common point — the "barycenter" is located well above Pluto's surface prompting a new debate on whether or not Pluto and Charon should be redefined as a "binary planet".
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Can We Call Pluto and Charon a 'Binary Planet' Yet?

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  • by turkeydance (1266624) on Friday August 08, 2014 @05:13PM (#47634035)
    seriously....call Pluto what it is...ClickBait.
  • What debate? (Score:5, Informative)

    by glwtta (532858) on Friday August 08, 2014 @05:35PM (#47634193) Homepage
    Planet and Dwarf Planet are arbitrary labels defined by the IAU.

    How can you "debate" about that?
  • OOOps! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Unknown74 (3041957) on Friday August 08, 2014 @10:05PM (#47635553)
    My mistake...Pluto has FIVE moons. Charon: Discovered in 1978, this small moon is almost half the size of Pluto. It is so big Pluto and Charon are sometimes referred to as a double planet system. Nix and Hydra: These small moons were found in 2005 by a Hubble Space Telescope team studying the Pluto system. Kerberos: Discovered in 2011, this tiny moon is located between the orbits of Nix and Hydra. Styx: Discovered in 2012, this little moon was found by a team of scientists search for potential hazards to the New Horizons spacecraft flyby in 2015. may the 'little planet that could' keep right on thumbing it nose at everybody!

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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