Agriculture
Getting the dirt on carbon
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Got Milk? How?
Amphibians
Frogs and Toads
Salamanders and Newts
Newts
Animals
Awake at Night
A Spider's Taste for Blood
Elephant Mimics
Behavior
The Other Side of the Zoo Fence
Eating Troubles
Night of the living ants
Birds
Chicken
Backyard Birds
Falcons
Chemistry and Materials
Atom Hauler
Cooking Up Superhard Diamonds
Salt secrets
Computers
Toxic Dirt + Avian Flu = Science Fair Success
The Earth-bound asteroid scientists saw coming
New twists for phantom limbs
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Middle school science adventures
Hunting by Sucking, Long Ago
Meet your mysterious relative
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Ancient Heights
Deep Drilling at Sea
Riding to Earth's Core
Environment
Pollution Detective
Hazy with a Chance of Sunshine
Ready, unplug, drive
Finding the Past
Meet your mysterious relative
Unearthing Ancient Astronomy
Preserving Ancient Warrior Paint
Fish
Mahi-Mahi
Electric Eel
Megamouth Sharks
Food and Nutrition
Making good, brown fat
Chocolate Rules
The Color of Health
GSAT English Rules
Subject and Verb Agreement
Who vs. That vs. Which
Order of Adjectives
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
The Annual GSAT Scholarships
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT Scholarship
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Mathematics
Play for Science
Math is a real brain bender
Monkeys Count
Human Body
Surviving Olympic Heat
From Stem Cell to Any Cell
Taste Messenger
Invertebrates
Nautiluses
Centipedes
Fleas
Mammals
Cape Buffalo
Dachshunds
Gerbils
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Einstein's Skateboard
Dreams of Floating in Space
Plants
When Fungi and Algae Marry
Sweet, Sticky Science
Pumping Up Poison Ivy
Reptiles
Snakes
Geckos
Caimans
Space and Astronomy
Icy Red Planet
Sun Flips Out to Flip-Flop
Pluto, plutoid: What's in a name?
Technology and Engineering
Musclebots Take Some Steps
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Drawing Energy out of Wastewater
The Parts of Speech
What is a Preposition?
Problems with Prepositions
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Weather
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Antarctica warms, which threatens penguins
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Add your Article

Pluto, plutoid: What's in a name?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, wrote William Shakespeare in the play Romeo and Juliet. But what would astronomers say about a planet by any other name? It's a question astronomers have been talking about since 2006, when an international organization changed the classification of Pluto from "planet" to "dwarf planet." Now, the same organization has come up with a term to describe the new class of Pluto-like objects. Objects in this new category are called "plutoids." According to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), plutoids are dwarf planets that orbit the sun beyond the orbit of the planet Neptune. The classification "plutoid" sets these objects apart from another solar system dwarf planet called Ceres, which resides in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, says Brian G. Marsden, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It's an important distinction, he says. Ceres is a rocky dwarf planet, while Pluto is icy. Because the two have different physical traits, they should not be grouped into the same category. The new category and name reflect a growing body of evidence showing that Pluto shares its neighborhood in the outer solar system with numerous other objects all orbiting the sun. Planets, on the other hand, travel alone in their orbits with no nearby neighbors except their moons. The observation suggests that Pluto isn't big and heavy enough to have the gravity to "clear its orbit," or remove other nearby objects by either slinging them farther out into space or pulling them toward its surface. The ability to clear the orbit was one of the main criteria the IAU used in 2006 to justify changing Pluto's status from planet to dwarf planet. According to the IAU, a planet should be large enough that its gravity dominates everything else near its orbit. It's an idea based on astronomers' theories about how the solar system originally formed. Billions of years ago, they say, the solar system was made up of many small objects spread in a disk around the sun. Some of those objects grew by pulling other objects to them, much the way a snowball grows when you add more snow to it. As these objects grew larger, their gravity attracted more pieces of material to them, until they swept clean the entire zone in a wide path around them. In other words, they "cleared their orbit" of other material. Because numerous other objects orbit the sun near Pluto, some astronomers say it doesn't have the size to clear its own orbit. Pluto is still large enough for its own gravity to crush its mass into a spherical shape, which sets it apart from other, smaller solar system objects like asteroids. Yet, it is not large enough to affect the orbits of other nearby objects. So classifying it as a dwarf planet explains how it interacts (or, really, how it doesn’t interact) with other objects in the solar system. The additional classification as a plutoid makes clear where in the solar system Pluto and other objects like it reside. So far, astronomers have named one other plutoid — the dwarf planet Eris, whose discovery in 2003 sparked the controversy over whether it was correct to continue calling Pluto a planet. Since then, astronomers have found other plutoids, Marsden says. "Now that we’ve gotten the go-ahead from the IAU, the third plutoid will be named soon,” he says. Regardless of the terminology scientists use, Pluto and other objects like it will continue to teach us more about the structure of the solar system. Losing its classification as a planet doesn't make Pluto any less deserving of study, says Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. "Pluto is still Pluto," he says. "And I am quite sure it does not concern itself with what we choose to call it. And whatever we call it, it's no less interesting a cosmic object than it was before all this began."

Pluto, plutoid: What's in a name?
Pluto, plutoid: What's in a name?








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™