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2003 UB313 is NOT a planet

 
Astronomer
07/30/2005 01:10 PM
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2003 UB313 is NOT a planet
Prof. Mike Brown of Caltech has announced the detection of an object slightly larger than Pluto that he regards as a planet.
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However, what astronomers like Brown are ignoring is the distinction between a planet that formed in the same way that the planets up to Pluto did and Kuiper Belt Objects, which are merely debris from the Kuiper Belt that has over time been dragged into orbits around the Sun. These far-off objects are NOT true planets, even though they orbit the Sun, for the simple reason that they did not form in the primordial Solar System from the aggregation of planetisimals. They are just the outermost chunks of material that were left over from planet formation - the debris, NOT planets. This is why the object recently discovered by Mike Brown has a large inclination to the ecliptic of 45 degrees. If it had been a REAL planet formed by aggregation of planetisimals from a proto-planetary disc, it would exhibit the same small inclination to the ecliptic that the other true planets do because they condensed out of a disc. Mercury and Pluto have larger inclinations than the other planets and they are about the same value. In the past, Brown has argued that Pluto should not be considered a planet because its inclination and eccentricity are much larger than those of other planets. Yet he has now found an object with much larger inclination (45 degrees compared with 17 degrees for Pluto) and yet wants us to accept it as a planet merely because it is larger than Pluto! He cannot have it both ways. The truth of the matter is that large inclination per se is not necessarily evidence that an object is NOT a planet - Mercury being an example of a planet with a relatively large inclination. Pluto could have acquired its large inclination and orbital eccentricity through collision in the past with Trans-Neptunian Objects.

Astronomers love the kudos of everyone thinking that they have discovered new planets, whereas in fact all they have spotted are Kuiper Belt Object remnants of the primordial matter that made up the proto-planetary disc before it condensed into genuine planets. Just because a far-out object happens to be bigger than Pluto does not mean, as Brown thinks, that it ever had to be a true planet, that is, formed in the same way as the other planets! He is so keen to get recognised as the discoverer of a planet that he is ignoring an important fact here. That´s why the International Astronomical Union has resisted pressure from people like Brown to get Kuiper Belt Objects as large as Pluto recognised as planets. They are NOT true planets, just large objects in the debris field left over from the formation of the REAL planets. So don´t be deceived by all this silly hype. It is not being accepted by many other astronomers, amongst whome there considerable debate as to what constitutes a true planet. As far as I am concerned, it is one that was FORMED in the primordial proto-planetary disc; it is not merely a chunk of rock left over as debris from this process.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:13 AM
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Re: 2003 UB313 is NOT a planet
" That´s no moon , it´s a space station"

in best obi wan voice

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