Sunday, July 31, 2005

Caltech astronomer finds solar system's 10th planet

"A California astronomer has discovered what he believes is the 10th planet in our solar system, a group of NASA-funded researchers said on Friday.

The new planet, known as 2003UB313, has been identified as the most distant object ever detected orbiting the sun, California Institute of Technology astronomer Michael Brown said.

Brown and colleagues Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz have submitted a name for the planet to the International Astronomical Union and are confident it will be designated a planet. Brown did not reveal the proposed name.

The procedure for approving the new planet is somewhat hazy as no new bodies have received that designation since Pluto was discovered in 1930, Brown said.

"We hope that it's fairly noncontroversial among those who believe Pluto is a planet," Brown said. "I would say get out your pens and start rewriting the textbooks today."

The planet is located about 9.7 billion miles from the sun and is about 1 1/2 times the size of Pluto, the researchers said.

The new planet orbits the sun once every 560 years and is now at its farthest point from Earth, he said. In about 280 years, the planet will be as close as Neptune, he said.

Like Pluto, the object's surface is believed to be predominantly methane, but its size -- about 1,700 miles in diameter -- qualifies it as a planet, Brown said. Earth is about 7,900 miles in diameter.

The new planet is believed to be part of the Kuiper Belt, a large ring of icy objects that orbit beyond Neptune and are believed to be remnants of the material that formed the solar system.

Brown said the new planet was detected in January by the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego."

Pretty cool.....


  • I had heard on the radio that they were nicknaming the planet Xena. I think that is how you spell. :)

    By Anonymous Sara E, at 10:02 AM  

  • LOL...Xena...

    Personally, I think they'll choose another mythological god/goddess name...maybe Ceres or something like that...

    How many vote for Malacandra or Thulcandra? ;) (Go C.S Lewis!)

    By Blogger David Ketter, at 8:19 PM  

  • Yeah Sara, they , might name it after my cat?

    Malacandra and Thulcandra are cool names, I'm all for it. Though, I guess we won't be making the decisions. :)

    By Blogger MVB, at 9:23 PM  

  • They did not say that Xena was going to be the name of the new planet, they just said that was the nickname for it till they think of a name. But that would be funny if they do name it that, since that is the name of your cat.

    By Anonymous Sara E, at 10:37 AM  

  • Those are very cool names- I think it's so exciting that they might have really found another planet! Are they still trying to prove that Pluto is not a planet, by the way?

    By Blogger Sara, at 10:52 PM  

  • I don't know about Pluto, Sara.... But yeah, it is cool that they found a new planet.

    By Blogger MVB, at 8:08 PM  

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