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TheSpaceWriter's Ramblings

When is a Minor Planet Not?

28 Oct 2020, 19:03 UTC
When is a Minor Planet Not?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

A curious little story about a minor planet becoming something else landed in my email box yesterday. I’ve been working on a project about exoplanets for the past few weeks. Part of that involves looking into the formation of such systems around distant stars. Obviously, planets form, but other objects get formed when larger worlds do.

As part of the project, I read up on the kinds of worlds we have in our own solar system. Of course, we have planets. We also have dwarf planets (same as planets, but with a few qualifiers). There are minor planets, asteroids, comets, moons, and rings (made up of particles of broken-up moons). Oh, and we have a star, the Sun.

And Now We Have the Naming of Parts: Solar System Edition

Just because solar system objects get “binned” into various categories doesn’t mean they always STAY in those categories. And, those categories sometimes say more about our understanding of solar system objects than about the worlds themselves. We all know about the IAU’s silliness of “demoting” Pluto (based on a vote by a remnant of astronomers at the end of a meeting). They didn’t even bother to consult planetary scientists, who ...

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