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Planet X Larger Than Pluto?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the no-space-beasts-please dept.

561

nova_planitia writes "The Minor Planet mailing list is buzzing with the discovery by an amateur astronomer of a 17th magnitude object 51 astronomical units from the Sun, tentatively designated 2003 EL61. For those not versed in astronomical lingo, this is an object several times brighter than Pluto even though it is 25% farther out from the Sun (the orbit vizualised by JPL). This means that barring a strangely reflective surface, this object is larger than Pluto, possibly Mars-sized! The debate whether Pluto is a planet is likely to get rekindled by this discovery."

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561 comments

Broken Link, Naming Contest. (3, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194587)


The link to the BBC story [bbc.co.uk] in the summary is broken.

A functioning link can be found here [bbc.co.uk] .

So....the race is on to give this mysterious new planet a proper name! (Planet X is soooo Gen X...)

Please post your ideas below.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (4, Funny)

SamBeckett (96685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194605)

Goofy

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (3, Funny)

castlec (546341) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194843)

Cale: I'll call it planet Bob. Akima: You can't call a planet "Bob." Cale: So now you're the boss. You're the King of Bob? Akima: Can't we just call it "Earth"? Cale: No one said you have to live on Bob. Akima: I'm never calling it that.

Planet Bob without crappy formatting (0, Redundant)

castlec (546341) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194871)

Cale: I'll call it planet Bob.
Akima: You can't call a planet "Bob."
Cale: So now you're the boss. You're the King of Bob?
Akima: Can't we just call it "Earth"?
Cale: No one said you have to live on Bob.
Akima: I'm never calling it that.
Titan AE [imdb.com]

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194618)

Freya [wikipedia.org] .

Something non-Greek/Roman at last.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (1, Redundant)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194808)

[i]Something non-Greek/Roman at last.[/i]

Sedna, the Inuit godess of the sea is the namesake of a trans-Neptonian Object [wikipedia.org] . Toutatis, a Celtic war God, featured in the French comic [i]Asterix[/i], has a asteroid [wikipedia.org] named after him, as do several Egyption gods. The transition away from Greco-Roman mythology has already begun.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (2, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194835)

Freya already has a day (Friday - Freya's Day or Frigg's Day, depending on who you ask) named after her.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (3, Funny)

richdun (672214) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194636)

Well, if Planet X is sooo Gen X... It should be called iPlanet, or when someone tries to claim it, myPlanet.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (0, Flamebait)

Shin Chan (682232) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194713)

No no, they are getting [i]rid[/i] of the "my" prefixes.. Don't you [i]dare[/i] adding them back! On the other hand, why don't we call it Orange. You know.. [i]the future is bright, the future is orange[/i].

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (2, Insightful)

saintp (595331) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194845)

I'm afraid that iPlanet is already taken [wikipedia.org] . And as the other responder -- the one who posts on so many phpBB boards that he's forgotten HTML -- pointed out, the my- prefix is pretty passe. It's almost as bad as "cyberplanet."

Anyhow, shouldn't the new planet be named after a Roman god or goddess? I mean, let's choose a naming scheme and stick with it, people.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (4, Interesting)

mauledbydogs (853179) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194651)

I think we need to get a little more real with planet naming. Forget the gods, let's call it Dave.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (4, Funny)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194654)

Clearly, THAT is Pluto, and what we thought was Pluto wasn't. The new Pluto will know be known as Pluto, while the old Pluto will be forgotten.

There can be only one Pluto.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194756)

I would make teaching science class simpler - the old Pluto is just downgraded to a Kuiperoid comet, and the new Pluto is there. The solar system retains 9 planets, and the names remain the same. People just have to remember that most of the size and location information about Pluto is different, plus it no longer has it's moon Charon... but how many non-science-nerds knew that anyhow. All the sciency people can go know the news, and the rest of the people can ignore it without being confused.

Rename the old Pluto Persephone. I'm pretty sure that was the unofficial name they used in the '80s when they thought they'd found a planet the last time.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194663)

Vulcan.
Or maybe Mickey.

Abbot/Costello (5, Funny)

scaverdilly (902859) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194684)

Costello: "We could call it planet Y."

Abbot: "Y?"

Costello: "Because"

Abbot: "Because why?"

Costello: "I don't know"

Abbot: "Third Base!"

ooh - I know! (5, Funny)

consequentemente (898944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194707)

How about Vista? That has such a nice ring to it :-)

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194725)

hows about Orpheus? it is on an off kilter orbit so creeps up from the underworld.

or there is always Ryleh.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (4, Funny)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194737)

(Planet X is soooo Gen X...)

But ... Planet X ... that's where we need to get our next supply of Illudium Phosdex, the shaving cream atom.

I saw it in a highly-scientific production that was made about 60 years ago.

(Yes, humorless mods, that's a joke. If you don't understand it, you need to watch classic, WB cartoons from the 1940s and 50s.)

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (4, Informative)

Kyru (836008) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194738)

Clearly it should be named Rupert [hhgproject.org]

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194754)

Please just die and take your karma whoring with you.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194760)

Rupert, of course! Or, assuming no other astronomical object already bears the name, Proserpine (Roman)/Persephone (Greek) fits the mythology quite nicely.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (4, Funny)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194771)

Pronounce that "Planet Ten," and it'll seem a bit more modern, but there's still not much of a vista to experience if you're living on Earth.

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (1)

cje (33931) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194788)

I'd call it Hypatia [agnesscott.edu] .

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194849)

Obviously, its a planet that couldn't be found before, but has been found now so.....

PLANET GOOGLE!

Re:Broken Link, Naming Contest. (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194868)

Come on you know you want to name it Vulcan!

Live long an... oh nevermind.

If Pluto is a planet... (3, Funny)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194591)

This rock I have in my backyard is a mountain.

At the fractal level (4, Funny)

wiredog (43288) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194659)

it is.

Re:If Pluto is a planet... (1)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194782)

Finally, a mountain I can climb!

Re:If Pluto is a planet... (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194791)

I thought he was a dingo.

Nothing to see here.. (broke link) (1)

lecithin (745575) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194592)

Pluto is a planet? (2, Insightful)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194652)

Yes, because we defined it as such. Right or wrong, we've defined it as a planet, therefore it is a planet. Stop debating and arguing over the status of the hunk of rock. It's not like if we define it as something else it will change or cease to physically exist. We are simply categorizing it. We could call it a comet, it fits into that category too.

It's all a conspiracy (0, Troll)

dsmey (193342) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194597)

Pluto doesn't really exist, and we haven't landed on the moon.

Re:It's all a conspiracy (5, Funny)

Tanmi-Daiow (802793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194637)

"Pluto doesn't really exist, and we haven't landed on the moon."

Thats what they want you to think. We really have a super secret base on the moon. And Pluto is really our version of the Deathstar perched on the edge of the solar system in case any of the aliens on Mars get too far out of control.

1st! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194604)

mandatory 1st post :) thought id do it at least once in my lifetime!

Re:1st! (0)

Masami Eiri (617825) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194627)

You fail it.

Re:1st! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194800)

therefore, YOU are a failure and will accomplish nothing meaningful in your lifetime. nothing personal, just business...slashdot business.

New Scientist Coverage (4, Informative)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194622)

From my inexplicably rejected story submitted hours ago:

The New Scientist reports [newscientist.com] :
On Thursday a new planet-sized object was found orbiting the Sun at a distance of between 35-51 AU (at different points in its orbit) and an inclination of 28 degrees to the plane of the inner planets. By comparison Pluto orbits at an average distance of 39 AU and an inclination if 17 degrees. (1 Astronomical Unit = the distance between the earth and the sun) If the object has a reflectivity similar to that of other Kuiper-belt bodies, it is approximately twice the size of Pluto. Jose-Luis Ortiz and his colleagues at Spain's Sierra Nevada Observatory discovered the object while reviewing data from 2003. The International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center (MPC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts verified the obsevations and designated the object 2003 EL61.

Re:New Scientist Coverage (0, Redundant)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194647)

You are a victim of the Slashdot good ol boy's club...been there myself.

Re:New Scientist Coverage (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194677)

No such thing as inexplicably. Stories get killed because.

Re:New Scientist Coverage (1, Informative)

Jorrit (19549) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194747)

Well if several people submit the same story, only one can be accepted. That's probably why yours got rejected.

Re:New Scientist Coverage (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194824)

Well, it happens... i once tried to submit stories, got no-nos and then found them on frontpage day later...

What we need is Reason of rejection (duplicate/not worthy/editor is having bad day ...) just like mod reason ...

Re:New Scientist Coverage (3, Informative)

failure-man (870605) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194867)

Yours is less sensationalist and requires thinking about numbers. Numbers are bad. Sensationalism is good. Better luck next time. :p

Obligatory quote (1)

jejones (115979) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194629)

Lord John Whorfin: Where are we going?
assembled Red Lectroids: PLANET TEN!
LJW: When?
aRL: REAL SOON!

Of our Solar System? (2, Interesting)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194630)

My understanding, and correct me if I am wrong please, is that Pluto was not formed at the same time as the rest of our solar system, that it was pulled in. Would it be the same for this additional planet? If so, there could be others out there with orbits that we didn't expect.
Maybe I will move my telescope from being pointed at the neighbors shower and point it towards the sky.
What I love about space, is that the more we discover, the more we have to learn.

Re:Of our Solar System? (1)

Gadgetfreak (97865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194750)

"What I love about space, is that the more we discover, the more we have to learn."/i>

The same goes for voyeurism, actually.

Re:Of our Solar System? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194775)

I'm not aware of any extrasolar capture theories for Pluto. Unless you're counting the theory that Pluto was originally a Kuiper belt object. (There's also the "Pluto was a moon of Neptune" theory; I don't know if that's still in vogue.)

Re:Of our Solar System? (1)

Vindicator9000 (672761) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194784)

Why Pluto is a planet (courtesy of 2 Skinnee J's):

With depravity I break laws of gravity
Blast past the atmosphere to the last frontier
I go boldly through space and time
The skies the limit but they're limiting the sky
I break orbit by habit, ignite satellites and leave rings round the planet
A flying ace like that beagle
Nevertheless this alien remains illegal
'cause their discovery don't cover me
the immigrant's been left in the cold to grow old and disintegrate
discriminate against the distant and disclaim this
cause small minds can't see past Uranus
But I shun their rays, 'cause stuns just a phase
And my odyssey runs in two thousand and one ways
And I can see clearly now like Hubble,
Shoved off the shuttle, here's my rebuttal
It's a planet
Who you represent? I represent the smallest planet
Attorney in this tourney versus those who've tried to ban it
If you don't agree go see Interplanet Janet
Cause sun is star, like Pluto is planet
Lend me all your ears and let me state my case
About all the types of satellites you must embrace
Cause like my parents, great grandparents
This planet was an immigrant
To deport it makes no sense
It's an upstanding member of the solar system
Apply the laws of earth and make it a victim
Of Proposition 187
When Pluto spawns a moon it will apply to the heavens
I will damn thee like Judas of Iscariot
If you demote this mote remote to affiliate
It's like taking ET's custody from Elliot
Support your Lilliput, cause simply put

Pluto is a planet

Re:Of our Solar System? (1)

durbnpoisn (813086) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194789)

I don't think there is a solid way to determine if Pluto was created at the same time as the rest of the solar system.

Some say it's a rogue moon of Uranus. Some say it was a comet that burned off all the fun stuff. Some say it is nothing more than an asteroid.

Oddly enough, all of these same things can be said about the new planet. The fact that it's larger than Pluto is a little surprising, though...

But, really... As we get the chance to look further and further out, we are gonna find all kinds of shit orbiting our sun.

Simple answer. (4, Funny)

zenmojodaddy (754377) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194633)

In order to avoid confusion as to whether Pluto is a planet, call the new planet Pluto and rename old Pluto something else, like Herbert The Cow. Or Mr Gazpacho. Or Hellish Creamcheese.

It's Friday afternoon, and 5pm looks a LOOOONG way away. Can you tell?

Mr And Mrs Pluto (1)

JonnyCalcutta (524825) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194850)

...or the Plutos.

Could this be (1)

stuffduff (681819) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194634)

A potential base for mining the Oort Cloud? I wonder if Wan is already there?

Nemesis, the wandering planet (1)

Bonker (243350) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194635)

Nemesis, also known as the 'Black Moon', home to those who were exiled from Crystal Tokyo. They are led by the prophet Wiseman, who is one and the same with the dark planet.

RTFA before you post an article to slashdot! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194641)

The object's name is Sedna, and YES its offficial.
Also, its been confirmed that it is roughly HALF the size of pluto, and is NOT a planet.

-GenTimJS

Re:RTFA before you post an article to slashdot! (4, Insightful)

richdun (672214) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194696)

Actually, TFA mentions that astronomers discovered Sedna in 2004, and since this is 2005, this is a separate discovery.

from TFA: "The same team that found Sedna have designated it [the new discovery] K40506A after it was picked up by the Gemini telescope and one of the twin Keck telescopes in Hawaii."

Re:RTFA before you post an article to slashdot! (1)

Rob Carr (780861) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194819)

And, for that matter, Sedna is not an official designation yet. I know quite a few astronomers who are p.o.ed over that little screwup.

It's sort of like the periodic chart wars for us chemists....

Re:RTFA before you post an article to slashdot! (2, Informative)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194724)

That is incorrect. Sedna was discovered last year. This a new discovery which has not yet been named.

Re:RTFA before you post an article to slashdot! (1)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194726)

Reading comprehension for the win!

Sedna was discovered back in 2004. It's just an object of similar size in a similar area. This object is not Sedna.

Re:RTFA before you post an article to slashdot! (0, Redundant)

CoyoteGuy (524946) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194736)

How about you RTFA, this is not Sedna. This object was discovered by the same group that discovered Sedna in 2004. According to my calendar, it's 2005.

Ok someone at NASA is taking this joke WAY too far (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194758)

... my mom's name is Sedna. :-(

I for one (4, Funny)

Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194645)

I, for one, welcome our new 2003-EL61ian overlords.

Sorry...I've never gotten to do one of those before.

Re:I for one (-1, Redundant)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194667)

only old koreans would live and be overlords on a planet like that

Re:I for one (-1, Redundant)

doob (103898) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194834)

In Soviet Russia our new 2003-EL61ian overlords welcome you!

It's my first time too, fun isn't it :-)

Brighter than Bush? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194648)

Maybe that's where all the WMD are hidden?

Father Antos lives on 'X'! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194650)

She's got to be at 9-9-9!

+1 Ultima II reference (1)

the Howard Dean Camp (748694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194687)

What a great game.

Re:+1 Ultima II reference (1)

MaxQuordlepleen (236397) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194751)

Seconded! Don't forget your red gems.

Name for it: (5, Funny)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194656)

OK, since most of the planets were named after Roman gods, here's a name for it:

Bacchus [wikipedia.org] - the party planet! Party all night - and it's ALWAYS night!

Pluto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194658)

Pluto... What a dog.

Oh great. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194661)

This will get Planet X believers hopping as 'proof' that Planet X is on its way to destroy us.

Mod up! (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194695)

Seriously, this is going to get all those nut cases all revved up.

Heavens Gate 2.0, here we come. All abord for the suicide express

Interesting (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194665)

A reflective surface you say?

That's no moon, It's a discoball!

*cue imperial march*

Re:Interesting (1)

Cobralisk (666114) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194861)

I agree [nasa.gov]

Oh man, those poor astrologers (1)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194686)

No wonder they keep getting it wrong! Not only do they have to keep track of Sedna, but Planet X too. And who knows how many more?

Anyone get the feeling this solar system is getting a mite crowded?

On the other hand, the repeat business can't be so shabby - just think how many of their best customers will need their charts recalculating...

Re:Oh man, those poor astrologers (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194770)

How long before this guy gets sued for $300 million by a Russian astrologer for interfering with her "calculations"?

I misread the title of the story below this one... (1)

Zate (687440) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194689)

Patent Examiners Flee USPTO

To me was "Planet Examiners Flee PLUTO"

weird.

New Target (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194701)

I believe this planet should get a name to detract from Uranus as a planet, seriously, its time to take it out on some other rock.

What comes after Pluto? (1)

Odonian (730378) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194702)

Goofy of course. And if we decide to de-planetize Pluto, it'd be OK. I was never clear on why Disney needed 2 stupid dogs in their character library anyway.

Re:What comes after Pluto? (1)

The Real Andrew (321273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194795)

One to wear trousers and talk and one to be a dog?

Amateur astronomer? (3, Insightful)

fruity_pebbles (568822) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194703)

The TFA mentions two teams of scientists who found the object independently of each other. It doesn't say anything about discovery by an amateur astronomer.

Hasn't anyone automated this stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194709)

Can't the plates be digitized and loaded onto a big harddisk. Appropriate metadata (time, location, angle, etc.) could be put in a database. Someone could write a program to align the images and then do an image diff. With Quaoar, Sedna, and Planet X there should be more local planets.

Planet X Larger Than Pluto? (-1, Troll)

Isldeur (125133) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194720)


Planet X Larger Than Pluto?

Slow news day?

Never noticed it before? (2, Interesting)

Oostertoaster (808578) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194732)

I'm somewhat ignorant when it comes to astronomy like this, so if the following questions are ridiculous, just ignore me :)

If the object is as big as the story says (With orbit that JPL predicted for it) why haven't we noticed it before? Given its (apparent) proximity to Pluto's orbit, wouldn't we have detected some sort of gravitational interaction?

Re:Never noticed it before? (5, Informative)

jscharla (144705) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194847)

There are several reasons why this planet can't be detected gravitationally.
1) Although it is roughly the same distance from the Sun as Pluto the inclination is about 10 degrees off so they are actually not close at all.
2) Even if they were close, becuase the orbits are so slow at that distance (Pluto takes a few hundred years to orbit the sun) it would take a long time to notice pertubances in the orbit of Pluto.
3) Even though this planet is twice the size of Pluto, it is still really really small. Pluto is smaller then our moon so at the distances we are talking here the interactions are going to be so small as to be completely unnoticable with our current technology.

Someone call Duck Dodgers (2, Funny)

The Famous Brett Wat (12688) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194735)

Excellent! A new source of Illudium Phosdex, no doubt. It will probably be over three hundred years before we can get there, though, by which time our supplies will be alarmingly low.

Old versus new (3, Funny)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194742)

Pluto: Old and busted.
Planet X: The new hotness!

The question "is pluto a planet" IS... (2, Interesting)

burnttoy (754394) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194763)

a complete irrelevance. Pluto doesn't care, I don't care, only the categorisers actually care.

There's so much variance in objects in the solar system it's difficult to even come up with a definition of what a planet is although a popular definition is "large enough for it to form a sphere". This means that many satellites also become planets.

The best way to describe these objects is size, density, distance(s) from sun, orbital period, rotation period/direction etc... "planet" is a single word that expresses very little. Most common single words turn out to be quite abstract in their definitions!

Having said that - this is a very, very interesting little planet. Isn't it about time that we built a sizeable, nuclear powered, ion drive probe filled with instruments and hires telescopes and sent it hurtling off through the solar system with enough juice for say 50 years complete with a big transmitter to get the data back?

JPL link not working (1)

dave1g (680091) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194766)

Not working for me :-(

Pluto is not a planet (2, Interesting)

uberjoe (726765) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194777)

Ok, I'll say it, you can say it with me. Ready, Pluto is not a planet. It is a Kuiper belt object. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuiper_belt [wikipedia.org] Yes it's got a moon, yes it's pretty big for a KBO but it's not a proper planet. If Pluto is a planet then so is Ceres http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1_Ceres [wikipedia.org] and Juno http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(3)_Juno [wikipedia.org] They're even round too.

Fainter than Pluto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13194779)

Considering Pluto's magnitude is around 14, this object is about 16 times fainter (2.512^dm, where dm is the magnitude difference).

Even so, it should have been detected long ago.

Here's the text of the message... (5, Informative)

Ariane 6 (248505) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194796)

It came in about seven o'clock last night...

Hello MPML,

Jose Luis Ortiz of Sierra Nevada Observatory asked me to forward his message. Actually he sent it to MPML today but it looks as if he is moderated and so his message is delayed. As this is pretty urgent, to give anyone interested the chance to do science on it, I hope my message gets relayed faster!

----------
Hi there,

We found a very slowly moving object while carrying out a checking of some of our oldest images from the modest TNO survey that we started in 2002.

http://www.iaa.es/~ortiz/OSNTWeb/index.htm [www.iaa.es]

The object was very bright in our images (m_V~17.6!!) so we were able to precover it, and also recover it.

According to our best orbit fit and using regular assumptions on phase angle correction, the H value es around 0.3. Unfortunately we do not know the geometric albedo but if below 0.25 (which is the case of all TNOs for which an albedo has been measured except Pluto), the object would be larger than Pluto. However, it may well happen that this object is abnormally bright (with a very high albedo), like Pluto. So, depending on the albedo, this object might be sort of a Pluto's brother or Pluto's father...

This object is beyond Pluto and almost reachable by most amateurs, which is the reason why we write here!. It is observable right after sunset for a while at a reasonable elevation. Maybe some decent science can still come out of your observations.

Enjoy it!.

Our findings have been sent to the MPC, but the object has not received a provisional designation yet. Some ephemeris are given here:

Ephems (geocentric) [Date, RA, Dec, r, delta, elongation, mag]:
20050728.00000 13 21 50.208 +20 7 53.62 51.605 51.239 68.32 17.47
20050729.00000 13 21 51.856 +20 7 14.56 51.619 51.239 67.49 17.47
20050730.00000 13 21 53.576 +20 6 35.29 51.632 51.239 66.66 17.47
20050731.00000 13 21 55.369 +20 5 55.81 51.646 51.238 65.84 17.47
20050801.00000 13 21 57.233 +20 5 16.13 51.659 51.238 65.01 17.47
20050802.00000 13 21 59.169 +20 4 36.26 51.672 51.238 64.19 17.47
20050803.00000 13 22 1.176 +20 3 56.23 51.685 51.238 63.37 17.47
20050804.00000 13 22 3.253 +20 3 16.02 51.698 51.238 62.55 17.47
20050805.00000 13 22 5.401 +20 2 35.67 51.711 51.238 61.73 17.47
20050806.00000 13 22 7.619 +20 1 55.17 51.723 51.238 60.92 17.47
20050807.00000 13 22 9.906 +20 1 14.54 51.736 51.238 60.11 17.47
20050808.00000 13 22 12.261 +20 0 33.79 51.748 51.238 59.29 17.47
20050809.00000 13 22 14.685 +19 59 52.93 51.760 51.238 58.49 17.47
20050810.00000 13 22 17.176 +19 59 11.97 51.772 51.237 57.68 17.47
20050811.00000 13 22 19.734 +19 58 30.93 51.784 51.237 56.88 17.47

The orbital elements are:

OSNT11 Epoch 2005 July 29.0 TT = JDT 2453580.5
M 197.97485 (2000.0) P Q
n 0.00345428 Peri. 239.53682 +0.91285785 -0.07597426
a 43.3408541 Node 121.89008 +0.13526717 +0.98332108
e 0.1887862 Incl. 28.19395 -0.38521856 +0.16524998
P 285.33 H 0.2 G 0.15 U 2

--
                      Jose-Luis Ortiz
                      Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, CSIC
                      P.O.Box 3004. 18080 Granada. Spain.
----------

Regards,
Jaime Nomen
620 OAM

Hah (2, Funny)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194811)

Cue the Uranus jokes:
"Speaking of size, what about Uranus?"
"How can be possible comment on this new planet when we still have yet to send a probe to Uranus?"

Some wise astronomers have tried to change the speech from "your anus" to "urine us" or "you're in us". Unfortunately the planet seems to just be plain doomed as far as American English pronounciation goes.

Ice and Rock (1)

mendaliv (898932) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194814)

Is this within or outside the oort cloud? I don't know much about the outer solar system, but I do know that ice could be refined into hydrogen and oxygen fuel...

Of course the thing is just damned far out there in the first place. Unless we can fuel a star drive on hydrogen and oxygen there's probably not much point in having that as a refuelling post.

Doesn't add up (2, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194841)

The published magnitude of Pluto is around 13-14. This thing is 25% further from the Sun (and Earth too) away but several times 'brighter' due to being more reflective and larger. That means it ought to appear brighter in the sky than Pluto. But it's reported as magnitude 17, which is quite a bit dimmer.

I'm waiting... (3, Funny)

ZOmegaZ (687142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194844)

When's the first astrologer going to sue because the discovery of this planet has deformed her horoscope?

Trick to Finding This Object (5, Interesting)

Rob Carr (780861) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194851)

Astronomers were using too short a time span between pictures for them to see the change in position of something 51 AU out from the sun. The angle of the orbit to the ecliptic made it harder to find, too.

Since this was found so easily, one has to wonder just how many of them there are out there. This might be only the first of many.

This, by the way, is an excellent reason to call these things TNOs (Trans-Neptunian Objects). Who wants to memorize the 85 planets of our solar system?

learn some grammer (0, Flamebait)

timmy_otoole (516019) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194853)

Its "brigther then Pluto".

Water? (1)

WhiteZero (902841) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194856)

"Strangly reflective" eh? This could mean a large body of water or that the planet is mostly water (like Earth). Water = life

Is it a planet? (1)

killeena (794394) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194862)

Who cares? It is a mass of matter that orbits the sun, and kinda has an atmosphere. Close enough. Now let's move on to more important things. There are a lot more interesting things out there.
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