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Pluto Regains Its Title As Largest Object In Its Neighborhood 138

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 cunniff ( 264218 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @04:47PM (#46510341) Homepage

    From TFA:

    Eris is just 2326 kilometers across—possibly smaller than Pluto, whose diameter is somewhere between 2300 and 2400 kilometers. The uncertainty arises because Pluto, unlike Eris, has air that complicates the interpretation of observational data.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2014 @05:08PM (#46510617)

    1) With the discovery of the other clutter that could be considered within Pluto's orbit, it means that any consistent definition of a planet would either not include Pluto, would include Ceres, or would not include Mercury. After some bickering and debate, the guys who run the telescopes decided to start calling Pluto a dwarf planet, and toss Ceres, Eris, and a couple dozen other big rocks into that bucket.

    2) 'Kilo' is the metric prefix for 1000, not 1024. There already was confusion between an OS's kilobyte and a storage manufacturer's kilobyte. Kibibyte is a lame hack to try to instill some semblance of binary order in a scenario where marketing will trump all such efforts.

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled ranting.

  • 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.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.