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Astronomers Spot Most Distant Object In the Solar System (sciencemag.org) 85

sciencehabit writes: Astronomers have found the most distant known object in our solar system, three times farther away than Pluto. The dwarf planet, which has been designated v774104, is between 500 and 1000 kilometers across. It will take another year before scientists pin down its orbit, but it could end up joining an emerging class of extreme solar system objects whose strange orbits point to the hypothetical influence of rogue planets or nearby stars. In other planetary science news, UCLA professor Jean-Luc Margot has proposed a new definition of the term "planet" which would allow for the inclusion of exoplanets. His metric is laid out in an academic paper available at the arXiv.
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Astronomers Spot Most Distant Object In the Solar System

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2015 @08:45AM (#50907639)
    and i demand to be treated as one.
  • We can have Pluto again?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rei ( 128717 )

      Nope. A tiny fraction of a group who is overwhelmingly not planetary scientists has spoken and made their internally-inconsistent definition. It stands until they revoke or alter it.

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2015 @09:38AM (#50907829) Homepage

    .. to make up a formula to say what you want it to say for data like this.

    Here, want an alternative formula to declare the 8 IAU "planets" as planets as well as exoplanets but exclude the IAU "dwarf planets", without using any of the terms he uses, and to be able to classify 100% (rather than the 99%) of exoplanets?

    MeanDistanceFromTheSun / DiscoveryYear ^5 > 0.21mm/y^5

    It's a functional formula. Does this mean that it's a reasonable formula? Of course not; it has no connection with the reality of what they actually are. But you know what? Neither does his or the IAU's "cleared the neighborhood" concept. There are no credible planetary models that show for example that Mars cleared its own neighborhood. While they differ on the details, they all agree that Jupiter cleared it (and cleared most of the debris from the inner solar system in general, with some help from Saturn). Neptune has (despite its distance from the sun) orders of magnitude more orbit-clearing power than Mars yet nonetheless contains multiple objects a couple percent the size of Mars in its "neighborhood". Is Mars not a "planet"?

    I have a giant list of reasons why the IAU decision is poor and unscientific, but no need to post it again.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You seem obsessed over something most people don't care about and are able to back it up.

      I like you.

  • We should send the IAU out there with some paint to draw a line (circle or ellipse) as to where the edge of the solar system is.

  • ...Donald Trump's humility!

  • Wow, 3x as far out as Pluto, which is so way way out there it was itself named for the god of the underworld, of death.

    And this is 3x further than that! In fact, it is so far out there, I officially name it (pick one):



  • ...or maybe it's just required that people named Jean-Luc go into astro/planetary/aerospace lines of work. :-)

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?