Planet X, or just a Lawless Wanderer?

Larger than Pluto and farther away from the sun, 2003 UB313– “Xena”– may be the tenth planet in the solar system. On the other hand, maybe Pluto should lose its status.

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21 replies on “Planet X, or just a Lawless Wanderer?”

  1. Timeshredder says:

    Planet Xena?

    And will they call its moon, if it has one, Gabrielle?

    • roseblood says:

      Re: Planet Xena?

      And will they call its moon, if it has one, Gabrielle?

      Mod Parent up Funny

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: Planet Xena?

        And will they call its moon, if it has one, Gabrielle?

        Okay, they have been calling its moon, since it’s discovery, Gabrielle

        • Timeshredder says:

          Re: Planet Xena?

          And will they call its moon, if it has one, Gabrielle?

          Okay, they have been calling its moon, since it’s discovery, Gabrielle

          "Its" discovery, dang it.

  2. fsphil says:

    X marks the spot
    I hope so! I can’t seem them not accepting it as the 10th planet without also demoting Pluto. If they do decide that this new object isn’t a planet I wonder what they’ll do when even larger objects are found. We know now that there are thousands of these things out there, some with orbits that take them out near the edges of the solar system where even large Earth or Mars sized object would be very difficult to detect.

    And it’ll *really* annoy all those astrologers! Which is always a good thing.

    • y42 says:

      Re: X marks the spot

      And it’ll *really* annoy all those astrologers! Which is always a good thing.

      Well, the move to heliocentrism and the addition of 2 planets didn’t phase them, I think they’d be more likely to have “NEW, MORE ACCURATE READINGS thanks to the newly discovered PLANET X! Find out how planet 10 affects YOUR life!” signs put up.

      • 3vi1 says:

        Re: X marks the spot

        I think they’d be more likely to have “NEW, MORE ACCURATE READINGS thanks to the newly discovered PLANET X! Find out how planet 10 affects YOUR life!” signs put up.

        Remember the astrologer that was trying to sue NASA a while back over the Deep Impact mission? I think it would be just great if the astrologer were now sued because their previous predictions may have been inaccurate.

    • 3vi1 says:

      Re: X marks the spot

      I can’t seem them not accepting it as the 10th planet without also demoting Pluto.

      If they demote Pluto, wouldn’t that make it the 9th planet? :)

      And if they don’t demote Pluto, then I guess Sedna is a planet too… So this would be the 11th? Heck, let’s throw Quaoar in there too, and make this new one the 12th.

      • fsphil says:

        Re: X marks the spot

        And if they don’t demote Pluto, then I guess Sedna is a planet too… So this would be the 11th? Heck, let’s throw Quaoar in there too, and make this new one the 12th.

        Nah, all they need to do is say that Pluto is the minimum. Anything smaller isn’t a planet. Simple solution, Pluto remains a planet and this new object becomes a Warrior Planetess.

  3. GrimSean says:

    482 kM, that is

    On the other hand, maybe Pluto should lose its status.

    According to the article “Xena” (please someone tell me that comes from somewhere other than television) is 1700 miles in diameter, and if I recall my astronomy correctly, Pluto is about 1400 miles in diameter.

    So 300 miles is the difference between planet and not-planet then?

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: 482 kM, that is

      According to the article “Xena” (please someone tell me that comes from somewhere other than television) is 1700 miles in diameter, and if I recall my astronomy correctly, Pluto is about 1400 miles in diameter.

      So 300 miles is the difference between planet and not-planet then?

      It’s a Kuiper Belt Object, detritus from the early phases of the solar system, and there’s a general feeling these might not quality as planets. Of course, Pluto is considered such an object, so….

      As for the name, the object was, indeed, named for the Warrior Princess because, according to Dr. Michael Brown, “we always wanted to name something Xena.” I have heard the name described, however, as “provisional.” The article linked suggests that the name may not stick.

      • GrimSean says:

        Re: 482 kM, that is

        So 300 miles is the difference between planet and not-planet then?

        It’s a Kuiper Belt Object, detritus from the early phases of the solar system, and there’s a general feeling these might not quality as planets. Of course, Pluto is considered such an object, so….

        Well, Ceres is usually considered the largest of the asteroids, and it clocks in at 1000 kM in diameter (I’m not sure if that’s average or the largest, as I know it’s not spherical). Pluto is about 2300 kM in diameter, and ‘Xena’ (I really hope that doesn’t stick) is 2800 kM (I’m rounding up).

        Earth, to put it in perspective, is 12800 kM in diameter, Mercury is 4900 kM, and Jupiter is 143000 kM. I’ve always felt the tricky part is when you start looking at moons: our Moon is 3500 kM, Titan is 5200 kM, Ganymede 5300 kM, yet Deimos is only 13 kM and Phobos 22 kM.

        Basically, I find it highly doubtful that an object that has only 500 kM on good old Pluto could knock it out of the official planethood. Besides, Pluto has Charon, the least-heard-of moon in the solar system, and if that doesn’t confer planethood, I don’t know what would.

        • coyote says:

          Re: 482 kM, that is

          Besides, Pluto has Charon, the least-heard-of moon in the solar system, and if that doesn’t confer planethood, I don’t know what would.

          At least one asteroid is know to have its own moon.

          • GrimSean says:

            Re: 482 kM, that is

            Besides, Pluto has Charon, the least-heard-of moon in the solar system, and if that doesn’t confer planethood, I don’t know what would.

            At least one asteroid is know to have its own moon.

            True, Ida & Dactyl do exist, but they’re not spherical, whereas Pluto and Charon are.

  4. y42 says:

    Lawless
    Ok, I JUST got that joke.

    I feel dumb : )

  5. coaxial says:

    planet or not?
    The big controversy over whether this and Pluto are planets is bit of much
    ado about nothing. Ultimately we’re dealing with a name. Not astrophysics,
    but simply nomenclature. Complicating matters is the fact that people have
    the idea of “When I was kid we had nine planets. That’s the way it was and we
    liked it! We loved it!” Then you have people that say, “Planets are big, and
    this is just merely ‘large.'”

    If you follow the logic of size and/or distance being the qualifying
    characteristic of a planet, you’re legislating the term, rather than letting
    nature determine it. This would make planets, the only astronomical object
    whose definition is determined by a tape measure. What’s wrong with the
    definition of planet being an object with enough mass to form a sphere in
    orbit around a star? Yes, this makes Ceres asteroid, but so what? You
    change some text books to read, “At one time it was believed that there were
    only nine planets, but now scientists realize that there are many many more.”

    • Timeshredder says:

      The trivia-game makers will go crazy

      You
      change some text books to read, “At one time it was believed that there were
      only nine planets, but now scientists realize that there are many many more.”

      So “My Very Energetic Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Pies” will eventually develop into an absurdist short story?

    • BaseNeptune says:

      Re: planet or not?

      The big controversy over whether this and Pluto are planets is bit of much ado about nothing. Ultimately we’re dealing with a name. Not astrophysics, but simply nomenclature. Complicating matters is the fact that people have the idea of “When I was kid we had nine planets. That’s the way it was and we liked it! We loved it!” Then you have people that say, “Planets are big, and this is just merely ‘large.'”

      If you follow the logic of size and/or distance being the qualifying characteristic of a planet, you’re legislating the term, rather than letting nature determine it. This would make planets, the only astronomical object whose definition is determined by a tape measure. What’s wrong with the definition of planet being an object with enough mass to form a sphere in orbit around a star? Yes, this makes Ceres asteroid, but so what? You change some text books to read, “At one time it was believed that there were
      only nine planets, but now scientists realize that there are many many more.”

      Right, the real problem here is the lack of a good definition for ‘Planet’, compounding factors are also it’s *cool* to discover a *new planet* for marketing reasons, and people being sentimental to Pluto.

      If Pluto was discovered today, instead of 1930, we could just written it off a Kupiter Belt Object (KBO) once and for all.

      Until we get a good standard definition that everybody can agree on, this debate is just going to rage on for Astronomy type nerds while everybody else… doesn’t care.

      For me, a planet needs to have two good things A) Enough mass so gravity can pull the object into a sphere (as you mentioned), B) a good stable circular orbit, (in order to quality, the Eccentricity of the orbit has to be below X) That should settle matters enough until we have a telescope or space craft good enough to form a map of another Solar System. Otherwise we’re going to end up having to allow everybody in.

      8 Planets, 2 Belts, keep it simple for the masses.

      • madhack says:

        Re: planet or not?
        IMNSHO, its orbit should also be on roughly the same plane as as that of the other planets.

  6. Captain_Avatar says:

    Thinking too hard….
    Heck, it’s a planet. Just because it’s made of Ice and a little bit of rock shouldn’t disqualify it. We have big balls of gas and smaller balls of rock we call planets too. If it’s round and above an arbitrary size, say 1000KM then we should go ahead and call it a planet.

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