Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ever Hear of a Planemo?



Too big and too hot to be a planet, to small and cold to be a star. They discovered a pair of them orbiting each other some 400 LY away. I always thought they called those things Brown Dwarfs, but I guess they call them "Planetary Mass Objects" or Planemo for short. I guess brown dwarfs are a little bigger than planemos. hmmm.

You know when I went to school, stars were spheres of fusion heated gas in a careful balance of gravity and heat, while planets were the rocky or gaseous things that orbited them. Now we have Kuiper Objects, Gas Planets, Terrestrial Planets, Brown Dwarfs, Black Dwarfs and now Planemos. They even argue over the definition of a planet, and whether or not Pluto or worlds like Sedna or Quaoar are planets or Kuiper objects or what. Already a Kuiper Object larger than Pluto has been detected but they will not call it that 10th planet because they don't even know the parameters of the word planet anymore.

I wonder if we don't sometimes complicate things just for the sake of complicating them.

4 Comments:

Blogger Gayle said...

I think things get too "complicated" because the experts want to seem more important. They are all legends in their own minds! I'm being very flip, I know. Astronomers do awesome work.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Seaspook said...

We also now have GLOBAL WARMING!

8:08 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Hey, if you haven't figured it out, scientists seem to get paid to make things complex so the rest of us seem like rubes.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Roy said...

A misunderstanding here - a 'planemo' is any object with planetary mass - i.e. smaller than a 'brown dwarf', but with sufficient mass to make the body roughly spherical (they have 'planetary mass').

A brown dwarf is not a star as it is not big enough to burn hydrogen, but does have some thermonuclear reactions in its core - so between 14 and 75 times the size of Jupiter.

Planemo covers planets, dwarf planets, satellites of planets or dwarf planets that have 'planetary mass', plus 'free floating planemos' - those of a size to have 'planetary mass' but are not in the system of a fusor ('fusor' is a name for stars and brown dwarfs together.

Hope this helps!

5:29 AM  

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