Agriculture
Earth-Friendly Fabrics
Springing forward
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Amphibians
Newts
Toads
Salamanders
Animals
Glimpses of a Legendary Woodpecker
Lives of a Mole Rat
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Behavior
The chemistry of sleeplessness
Reading Body Language
Fear Matters
Birds
Pigeons
Cassowaries
Flightless Birds
Chemistry and Materials
Graphene's superstrength
The Incredible Shrunken Kids
Bandages that could bite back
Computers
Fingerprint Evidence
The hungry blob at the edge of the universe
Electronic Paper Turns a Page
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Dino Bite Leaves a Tooth
Dino Babies
Middle school science adventures
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Springing forward
Earth from the inside out
Environment
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Shrimpy Invaders
To Catch a Dragonfly
Finding the Past
If Only Bones Could Speak
A Long Haul
Digging Up Stone Age Art
Fish
Angler Fish
Electric Ray
Bass
Food and Nutrition
The mercury in that tuna
Packing Fat
How Super Are Superfruits?
GSAT English Rules
Problems with Prepositions
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Adjectives and Adverbs
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Mathematics
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
Math of the World
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Human Body
Sea Kids See Clearly Underwater
Spitting Up Blobs to Get Around
Don't Eat That Sandwich!
Invertebrates
Black Widow spiders
Leeches
Starfish
Mammals
Woolly Mammoths
Mouse
Chipmunks
Parents
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
Speedy stars
Electric Backpack
Plants
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
A Change in Leaf Color
Sweet, Sticky Science
Reptiles
Crocodiles
Chameleons
Alligators
Space and Astronomy
Catching a Comet's Tail
A Planet from the Early Universe
Planning for Mars
Technology and Engineering
Slip Sliming Away
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
What is a Preposition?
What is a Noun
Transportation
Flying the Hyper Skies
Where rivers run uphill
Ready, unplug, drive
Weather
Earth's Poles in Peril
In Antarctica watch the heat (and your step)
A Dire Shortage of Water
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™