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Planets Without Stars or Mini-Solar Systems?

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the ronin-played-by-planet-di-niro dept.

149

iamlucky13 writes "An article today on space.com discusses the discovery of 6 objects by the European Southern Observatory in Chile that are smaller than typical brown dwarfs, larger than Jupiter, and not orbiting any stars. The objects are surrounded by disks of gas and dust possibly similar to the early solar system. In addition to presenting astronomers with a new group of objects to study, the finding also deepens the debate over what makes a planet. The scientists responsible for the discovery sidestep the question by calling them 'Planetary Mass Objects,' or planemos."

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149 comments

Even Chile wants to be in Europe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476685)


rather than be associated with the word "America"

vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (-1, Offtopic)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476693)

Yeah offtopic, but no where else is there to nag about it.

Anyone using Opera had problems with it besides me?

Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (1, Informative)

davebarnes (158106) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476707)

Looks like crap using Firefox 1.5 on Mac OS 10.4.6.
Crap is defined as:
1. fonts way too small
2. words overlapping each other

Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (0, Offtopic)

martinX (672498) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476776)

Firefox 1.5.0.4 on XP is fine.

Safari (latest) on 10.4 (latest) is fine.

Words overlapping each other does sound like a Firefox rendering problem.

Not sold completely on the /. layout but I suppose it will grow on me. Though after being on /. , Apple's site is starting to look a little ordinary. They're updating bits of it, but I think the overall look needs a makeover.

Are you reading this random comment, Steve? :-)

Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (0, Flamebait)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476855)

Are you reading this random comment, Steve? :-)
If he is, you're in deep shit for even thinking, let alone saying, something like this:

Apple's site is starting to look a little ordinary.


Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (0, Offtopic)

HTL2001 (836298) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476970)

The old CSS only had a problem on IE and I haven't tried IE enough on this layout to comment on how it handles.

The only problem I've had is that the story got bumped down about half a page length once, but didn't cause overlapping.

Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (1, Offtopic)

Flimzy (657419) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476795)

In IE6, I dislike that the font is too BIG! And a few minor issues with the backgrounds being in the wrong place.... I want my old slashdot back :(

Re:happy with lovely new slashdot layout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477370)

I like it guys, it is much easier on the eyes and I have 20/20 vision.

-Vicki

Looks much better on Linux (0, Offtopic)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477869)

I mainly use WindowsXP and the fonts are small and look like garbage.

It looks better with Firefox under Linux then Windows. I wonder if I can adjust firefox's fonts with just one domain?

Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (0, Offtopic)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477062)

FF 1.5.3 on a fresh Dapper installation is fine. And old Slashdot had display problems for me, so meh.

Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477103)

Looks fine on my Mac running OS 10.4.6 and Firefox 1.5.04

Fonts are clear, and I don't have any words overlapping.

Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476724)

The problems are horrendous in konqueror too. The text that should be in the boxes on the left is all scrunched up over the slashdot logo.

And the fonts seem off in Linux using Firefox, but no rendering problems there outside of the arrow thing on, on the main page, overlapping the tags for each article.

Out with the old (working) and in with the new (broken).

Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476747)

It looks beautiful on FireFox 1.5 running on Slack. I love it.

Re:vomits at lovely new slashdot layout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477193)

Yeah its pretty much junk on this weeks 9.0 weekly build, and 8.54. I have noticed in increase in the weekly build crashing more under the new layout, but that may also be because they have been rather unstable latley.

Planimals? Planetimals? (3, Funny)

xski (113281) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476704)


Ok, it doesn't really mesh with the whole 'Mass Object' extension but I'm fairly certain the general public could deal with it much better this way. Besides, if you throw something like 'planemos' out to Jack & Jenny Sixpack, Planimals is the innevitable result.

-xski

Re:Planimals? Planetimals? (0, Troll)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477049)

I suggested "Big Ass Balls," which is a concept that I think Jack & Jenny Sixpack could handle, but I got voted down.

Go figure.

KFG

Re:Planimals? Planetimals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477189)

Whilst some might say the previous comments by xski assume an air of superiority that would elicit little reaction from the general public, I can imagine the reaction to such by many a "Jack & Jenny Sixpack" to be the advising of the removal of some of the stuffing from his shirt -- possibly to be promptly moved to his hind quarters.

True 'planets' then (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476723)

As the word planet actually means "wanderer".

Re:True 'planets' then (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476738)

Presumably these odd planets are in an orderly orbit around the galactic center just like our solar system, so they don't "wander" anymore than the sun or Earth does.

Re:True 'planets' then (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476765)

You're dead inside, aren't you?

Re:True 'planets' then (3, Interesting)

fossa (212602) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476894)

Not knowing the time scales involved, I'm just going to throw this out as a possibility: if the orbital period of these odd planets around the galaxy is large enough, then the gravitational landscape on each revolution will be so different that the odd planet will hardly have a regular orbit. Alternatively, could it not eventually be trapped by a star? If so, one could hardly call its journey from wherever it started to the capturing star an orderly orbit.

Re:True 'planets' then (1)

July 21, 2006 (968634) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477283)

No spam link in this post?

I was wondering, Christopher Culver, do you think it's acceptable to spam message boards with unwanted advertising? I find it downright offensive.

Formation? (was: Re:True 'planets' then) (1)

beh (4759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477860)

These planets wouldn't be in the formation of a Kemplerer Rosette?

To any Pierson's Puppeteer: I'm over here! (though, I do not know how much pure luck was involved in my birth...)

(for those, who still don't get it:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringworld [wikipedia.org]

)

Re:True 'planets' then (3, Informative)

alexandrecc (970052) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477203)

For the ancient Greeks a planet was any object that appeared to wander against the field of fixed stars that made up the night sky (asteres planetai "wandering stars") (cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definition_of_planet [wikipedia.org] )

The problem with that definition is that the sun was initially included as a planet because it looked like moving around the stars.

So when the initial definition of a word is based on false assumptions, it is probably hard to save the ass of that word with further discoveries 3000 years later. I vote to create another word and put the word planet to the the recycle bin. It should be more elegant to put the planet to the recycle bin than to the dump.

Re:True 'planets' then (1)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477660)

Yeah, but planet + emo == planemo :]

So they're angsty "teenage" planets wandering through dark places for no particular reason...

The origin of some planets is already known (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476735)

Click here [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org]

Dark Matter (4, Interesting)

SB5 (165464) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476741)

Could these make up the hypothesized "Dark Matter"? Not these 6 objects specifically but objects like them.

I guess the question is how many of these would it take fill up the "dark matter" quotient we think exists.

Re:Dark Matter (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476785)

If I can remember correctly from astronomy class, yes, these _probably_ do make up dark matter. They aren't the WIMPs, but just matter in galaxies that don't emit light. If I remember correctly, they have been predicted, ( keplers law and the galactic rotational speed). Therefore this discovery probably wont change the density of the universe, and we'll still fall short of critical density.

Re:Dark Matter (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476861)

This is an excellent question. The idea of objects like these comprising dark matter has been tested with the MACHO project ( http://wwwmacho.mcmaster.ca/ [mcmaster.ca] ) which attempts to detect objects like this through gravitational lensing events. Unfortunately, the data from this experiment seem to suggest that they don't comprise enough mass to explain Milky Way observations.

Re:Dark Matter (5, Informative)

hogghogg (791053) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477198)

That's correct, though the MACHO experiment places its best limits on much more massive objects than Jupiters; for now it is conceivable that such objects could be a significant part of the dark matter. OTOH, there is no way (without huge modifications to what we know about the early universe) to make the majority of the dark matter anything (dust, rocks, planetesimals, planets, brown dwarfs, white dwarfs, neutron stars) that are made from atoms; we now know that the atomic component of the Universe must be only a few percent of the total. So though these could be part of the dark matter, they can't be all of it.

Re:Dark Matter (0)

m874t232 (973431) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476945)

It doesn't look like it--they would have to occur in vast quantities within galaxies and they just don't seem to.

If they did, it would be great, because it would mean that would be lots of planets between here and nearby stars. That would make interstellar travel considerably easier because humanity could move outwards very gradually.

Re:Dark Matter (4, Informative)

hogghogg (791053) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477209)

If these things made up the "dark matter" then it wouldn't be dark -- these objects (it might not be clear from the article) were found because they emit strongly in the infrared. In short, they can't make up the majority of the dark matter, either observationally or theoretically. Good idea, though.

Why haven't I heard about this before? (3, Funny)

Flimzy (657419) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476743)

I've watched every episode of Star Trek, and don't remember these planemos ever being mentioned!

Re:Why haven't I heard about this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476847)

*ahem*

ST: DS9 e. 29 "Meridian" [wikipedia.org]

Although, we'll both have to turn in our geek licenses, because I can't recall whether the planet otherwise orbits a star - and the article isn't telling.

Re:Why haven't I heard about this before? (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476857)

I've watched every episode of Star Trek, and don't remember these planemos ever being mentioned!

You watched *every* episode? Including the Enterprise episode "Rogue Planet"?

Actually, probably best not to admit it if you did.

Re:Why haven't I heard about this before? (1)

Flimzy (657419) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476993)

I did see that episode. But again, that was a planet... not a Planemo! I do think there were a few "vaguely similar to planemo" planets in TOS... But almost everything techncial was vague there anyway (as though throwing in a bunch of whacked-up technobabble makes the issue less vague in TNG)

And for the geek record, I haven't seen EVERY episode... There are about 5 episodes of TOS, 50% of Voyager, and 80% of DS9 I haven't seen. I have seen every Enterprise and TNG, however. I've only seen 2 epidosdes of TAS, although I have the entire series floating around somewhere on one of my old file server backups...

Re:Why haven't I heard about this before? (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477132)

I'm pretty sure I've seen every TNG, every Voyager, every DS9, PROBABLY every TOS (afaik), zero enterprise and no TAS. Also every Bab5 and read a couple sci-fi books from ds9 and bab5, and listened to a fair amount of starbase 479... Does that mean I'm a geek? I know it does mean I used to have no life. Now I don't watch much tv at all, really.

Re:Why haven't I heard about this before? (1)

Flimzy (657419) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477250)

Well you've already seen all the GOOD TV... so I don't blame you for not watching it any more :)

Re:Why haven't I heard about this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477405)

Right, but the definition of a planemo describes exactly what the Rogue Planet mentions. The planemo, to my knowledge, was only coined by the scientists.

Re:Why haven't I heard about this before? (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476932)

There HAVE been planets where the presence of that thing known as sun has been mysteriously missing. (OTOH, on a Pluto-like body, it wouldn't matter too much.) I also come to think of one Enterprise episode with a planet that's always dark. Of course, it's still got plenty of something which grows in a manner surprisingly similar to Earth vegetation.

Re:Why haven't I heard about this before? (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477119)

You should have watched enterprise then, they touched on this important issue, once.

Old stylesheets? (0, Offtopic)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476766)

Sorry for yet more offtopic, but does anyone have the previous slashdot stylesheets saved or cached somewhere? I did anticipate the need for them, but I thought somebody would surely post them in the official "design changed today" story, and I certainly didn't expect the change to happen so soon. Having the real ones would be an improvement over trying to hack something together from the slashcode base and alternative stylesheets.

Re:Old stylesheets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477022)

Seconded. This new layout is very annoying to read with large window sizes.

Re:Old stylesheets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477037)

or, as a tentative alternative, you could.. say... get used to it and quit whining?

Re:Old stylesheets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477188)

get used to it and quit whining?

  NO U!

(The internet. Bringing you intelligent and constructive discussion for nearly twenty years.)

Why is this not the norm? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476800)

Actually I find it more interesting this isn't more common (or is it? dun dun daan), because it really doesnt take much to escape the gravity of many stars. Planetary formation aside, given that stars whiz by each other they should be slingshotting crap away from each other.

For example, really how large a whack from a body with the right vectors is needed to send pluto escaping off in some mad direction? Anyone care to calculate how much force is needed to do it?

Re:Why is this not the norm? (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477382)

Anyone care to calculate how much force is needed to do it?

A whole bunch. In round figures.

Re:Why is this not the norm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477480)

IANAPhysist, but . . .

Pluto is 5.9*10^12 meters from the sun with an orbital speed of 6.1*10^3 m/s and a mass of 1.3*10^22 kg. Given a circular orbit, espace velocity is sqrt(2) times the orbital velocity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/pluto [wikipedia.org]

Change in kinetic energy equals
1/2 * m * (delta v)^2
1/2 * 1.3*10^22 kg * ((sqrt(2) - 1) * 6.1*10^3 m/s)^2
4.1 * 10^28 Joules

one megaton of TNT = 4.184*10^15 Joules http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/megaton [wikipedia.org]

Total energy required is 9.9*10^12 megatons of TNT. Considering 50-60 megaton is the upper limit of a nuclear warhead and about 30,000 warheads world wide, the global nuclear arsenal is only 2*10^6 megatons, meaning we need 5 million times the weapons to get Pluto to escape from the Sun.

Or, consider asteroid impacts, such as the one that hit the Yucatan Penninsula, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicxulub_Crater [wikipedia.org], which had an impact of 100,000,000 megatons. That would still need a thousand such impacts from similiarly sized asteroids.

That's assuming an impact (1)

nonlnear (893672) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477864)

The OP was asking about slingshotting, not impact. It's a very different matter then. And considering that escape velocity is roughly sqrt 2 * orbital velocity, it wouldn't take much at all. Especially considering that Sol is pretty tiny as stars go.

Planet or moon? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476815)

That's no moon....

Maybe an alien ship (1)

Dj-Zer0 (576280) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476850)

Are we certain its a planet, what if its a alien spaceship?, it says
" The objects are surrounded by disks of gas and dust"

slashdot-shinyfix.css v.001 (5 Jun 2006) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476881)

LINK: http://slashdot.org/~Slashdot+Shinyfix/journal/136 930 [slashdot.org]
PREVIEW: http://img59.imageshack.us/img59/658/slashdotshiny fixv0012vy.png [imageshack.us]

While Alex Bendiken's redesign of Slashdot is a very welcome change, not to
mention gorgeous, many Slashdotters have discovered deficiencies in the
resulting rendering. In particular, the usability of Slashdot's story
commenting has taken a beating. To ameliorate these "misfeatures", this CSS
file aims to do the following:

    1. Add visual cues to aid scanning through nested comments and replies.
    2. Move comment score back to the subject.
    3. Allow <i> and <em> within blockquotes.
    4. Adjust body text font and size.
    5. Set a fixed width for comments (e.g. 42 ems) to maintain readability
          with very wide browser windows. [DISABLED BY DEFAULT]

You can enable or disable these fixes, as desired, by commenting or
uncommenting the relevant CSS below.

NOTE: Currently, fix #2 only works in Safari (and perhaps Opera?).
Gecko-based browsers do not support "display: inline-block," which is used to
reposition the post score. If someone knows how to hack together an
equivalent for Firefox, please contribute!

INSTALLATION (SAFARI): Set this as the style sheet for slashdot.org with a
PithHelmet* rule or similar, or in Preferences > Advanced.
                              (* < http://www.culater.net/software/PithHelmet/PithHel met.php [culater.net] >)

INSTALLATION (FIREFOX): As if you need instructions.

LICENSE: The contents of this file are hereby released into the public
domain. Take that, Stallmanists.

Re:slashdot-shinyfix.css v.001 (5 Jun 2006) (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477139)

LICENSE: The contents of this file are hereby released into the public
domain. Take that, Stallmanists.


PWNED

the finding also deepens the debate over what make (4, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15476898)

the finding also deepens the debate over what makes a planet
That must be 'deepens' as in the question of how many angels you can fit on a pinhead is deepened by the suggestion that maybe some angels are overweight.

There is nothing deep about what to call by the name 'planet'. Once there was a clear delineation between planets and non-planets. Now there isn't because we've seen objects that straddle the divide set by the old definition. Just define some new words. If astronomers can solve the solar neutrino problem then surely they can solve the 'define planet' problem. Reminds me of Wadler's Law [blogspot.com].

Re:the finding also deepens the debate over what m (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477015)

"If astronomers can solve the solar neutrino problem then surely they can solve the 'define planet' problem."

Well, we could announce some proclamation from the balcony of the IAU's [iau.org] Mobile Oppression Palace, but since it's such a complete astronomical non-issue (what something's called makes no difference to how you study it) don't you think it's nice to let the people who care enough to debate it decide?

So, over to you!

No need. (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477403)

I don't see what the fuss is about, when it comes to planets, planetoids, etc. The problem is that astronomers have been using extremely an trivial value (diameter) to determine what to call non-stars, and use an equally trivial pair of values (spectral type and class) to determine star types. This seems to me to violate one of the core principles behind naming schemes (grouping in order to simplify understanding) and one of the fundamental tenants of science (keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler).


The Periodic Table of the Elements makes a lot of sense, because you can make a lot of predictions about the properties of an element based on where it is in the table. There are some oddities, sure, but by and large it is an extremely intuitive system. By comparison, knowing that a star is K or G tells you very little. You can make some inferences, by factoring in the abundances of the elements, the diameter of the star, the overall distribution of the electromagnetic radiation, etc, but if you're going to have to add in vast amounts of additional information to get anywhere, you might as well use that information in the name and have done with it.


For planets, asteroids, etc, it's much the same thing. By using too little information to determine the classification, you end up having to add vast amounts more information later on to produce subcategories, exceptions or new names entirely. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. Even a good naming system will need additions made to it, but it should be consistant with what is already there, and it should be easy to understand the relationships.


Since this is about planets, I'll use those as an illustration. Planets form around stars from the debris in the accretion disk, plus captured material from the stellar nursery in which the star formed, minus material "evaporated" from the system by the solar winds accelerating it, and minus material captured by other stars or gravitational sources. The process of condensing planets is slow, though apparently not as slow as once thought, which means that the material in the accretion disk will be sorted. In our own solar system, it seems to be that heavier elements are more common close to the sun and lighter ones are more common further away. (Mercury is unbelievably dense, for example, whereas Pluto seems to be little more than an iceball.)


However, because you need less energy to accelerate a lower mass, and because elemental hydrogen only forms a solid under extreme pressures, these will ALL have abundances of elements that are skewed (possibly by a lot, for inner planets, as the solar winds are much stronger) from the ratios observed on much larger scales (say, in the galaxy or the observable universe). Stars, on the other hand, are mostly composed of the extremely light elements and fit the expected abundances very nicely. As the gravitational field is reduced, the skew should increase, as it would require that much less energy for something to be ripped away, if it's free. (Obviously, hydrogen that has reacted with oxygen to form water is going to require much more energy than elemental hydrogen alone.) So, the composition tells us a lot about where something forms, how quickly it accumulated mass and how long it took. It would seem obvious, then, that composition should bear a major role in deciding what to call something.


The other "obvious" one would be structure. The "asteroid" recently observed to be 45% empty space (sand is 25%) would probably merit a new classification. Most asteroids probably have multiple "centers" around which they have congealed/collided. Certainly, the two comets that have broken up have had multiple centers, not a single rocky core. By comparison, the gas giants have a single center (duh!), as does the Earth and Venus, probably Mars as well, not sure if there's enough data on the others. But even with that, we can clearly see a logical distinction (as opposed to an arbitrary one) that can clearly distinguish between two very different sorts of objects and which would allow you to make some predictions.


Now, these new interstellar planets should make for an interesting test of the system I've outlined. Since we know their absorption lines, we know a lot about their composition and should therefore be able to determine if they are planetary objects or something else. (I'd argue that anything that forms outside of an accretion disk - say in interstellar space - cannot be considered a planet, and that its composition would be utterly different from anything that was formed in such a disk. This is assuming you agree with my idea that composition is a valid way to identify planets.) Since we use the terms "planet", "planetoid" and "planetesimal", IF these were formed outside of a solar system, they should be called "metaplanets" (lit.: the wanderers from beyond) or "quasiplanets". If their composition indicates they formed inside a solar system, then they're regular planets and their composition will reveal clues as to where they formed within the disk. Given that and their path, it should be possible to determine a solar system of origin and develop a suitable model for showing how the planet was flung out.


Interstellar planets have been observed many times before. They're intriguing but not apparently that rare. It would be interesting to speculate on what would happen if one ever plunged into our solar system. Could you build a stable binary system where the second point was a planet in turn orbitting the first? Or would it inevitably end up merging into the sun? And if so, what kind of indigestion is that going to give sol?

Re:the finding also deepens the debate over what m (1)

zbrimhall (741562) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477588)

If astronomers can solve the solar neutrino problem then surely they can solve the 'define planet' problem.
Different types of problems, different types of solutions. The Solar Neutrino problem is by nature a scientific one, with a scientific solution. The "define planet" problem is, on the other hand, an emotional problem. People really, really want there to be nine "planets" in our solar system. If Pluto is a "planet" then a bunch of other stuff seems to be as well. If Pluto isn't a planet, well, then we have eight "planets" and hunk of ice with a special name.

People won't come to an agreement on this question until either a) a definition of "planet" is proposed that includes Pluto but excludes everything else that is essentially the same as pluto; or b) the next generation of scientists enters the field and, having grown up with an awareness of the ambiguity of the problem, is less emotionally attached to the old model.

The Impossible Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476948)

Just don't go digging for the underground power source. You don't know what (or who) you might wake up.

This new slashdot.org template sucks!!!!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476957)

The old one was warm, and familiar. This one, feels cold.. I dunno, I wont be back as often..

Re:This new slashdot.org template sucks!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15478007)

So?

Wait a second (5, Informative) (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15476977)

That's no planet...

Star systems without a star (4, Interesting)

RKenshin1 (899412) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477023)

I suppose it makes sense that a planetary system could form in the same manner as ours,
but lack the mass to ignite a sustained fusion reaction in the core of the system.

How many others could be out there that we can't see?

Hmmm... (2, Insightful)

Liam Slider (908600) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477096)

Maybe the scientists should simply call them what they're already called....rogue planets.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477182)

But they're not single planets, but in fact an entire star system sans the star. To me a rogue planet doesn't suggest a cohesive system, but in fact a single planet (with or without moons) that have no other body related to it.

My favorite answer ... (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477117)

... to the question of what's a "planet" is the suggestion that we define it as one of the 9 objects that orbit our sun and are listed in American grade-school science texts.

This would settle the question forever, since it would immediately follow from the definition that there can't be any more planets anywhere in the universe.

Those troube-making astronomers would just have to invent a new term for similar objects elsewhere in the universe. Or in our solar system, for that matter. It's about time they did that anyway, because why do you need a term that includes both Jupiter and Pluto, but which excludes Luna, Ganymede, Titan and Charon?

One reason for such a definition is that the whole basis of the discussion seems to be that a lot of people seem to have a strong objection to calling anything else a "planet", and their sole reason seems to be that they don't like the idea that their grade-school science text might have been wrong.

Also, it might be nice to make up a shorter term than "planemo". That has three syllables, which is more than your typical journalist or politician can handle.

Re:My favorite answer ... (1)

helioquake (841463) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477889)

From my very biased point of view, I really don't give a damn if it's called a brown dwarf or a planet.

The taxonomy of celestrial objects are not exactly scientifically done in astronomy,IMHO. But the bottom line? The key parameters for these objects are: mass, density and temperature. These three parameters would *fairly uniquely* identify the object (and more descriptive), no matter what scientific language you speak of.

Sometimes I just hope that astronomers just quit being catalogue makers and act more like physicists.

When Worlds Collide (1)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477126)

In other news, Dr. Sven Bronson announced that two [wikipedia.org] of the newly-discovered Planemos may be headed in our general direction. "Mankind may be facing its greatest danger yet," the renowned astronomer said. However, world governments have so far received his predictions with skepticism [imdb.com].

In Related News . . . (3, Funny)

Dausha (546002) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477135)

In related news, Chilean astronomers have realized that their cleaning crew has not been cleaning the telescope.

Wait, I saw this episode... (3, Funny)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477148)

...of Deep Space 9... "A Rogue Planet." Lookout! I think its the homeworld of the Founders. You red-shirts better get the hell out of there...

Fun for the kids~! (2, Interesting)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477185)

At the risk of being modded OT, this article reminded me of an awesome little trick an old physics teacher did to help us visualize how we got from the big bang to planet earth.

Take a small bowl, fill it with water. Then, add a handfull of dark sand. Let the sand sort of float in "space" for a bit, moving the water enough to keep everything floating.

Now, to "play God", simply twirl the water counter-clockwise (or vice versa if you live under the equator) and remove your hand. Behold: your universe of sand will form a planet in the center of the bowl.

And, just out of curiosity: has anyone else ever seen this, or was my Prof. a total crackpot?

Re:Fun for the kids~! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477215)

> Now, to "play God", simply twirl the water counter-clockwise (or vice versa if you live under the equator) and remove your hand. Behold: your universe of sand will form a planet in the center of the bowl.

> And, just out of curiosity: has anyone else ever seen this, or was my Prof. a total crackpot?

He was if he told you that you needed to spin the water in a different direction depending on what equator you were in.

hehe (1)

spankey51 (804888) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477241)

It would be funny if they were just using a lower power eyepeice on their telescope and they were just like "hey man... that solar system looks really small... hahaha... silly astronomers, always mixing up their optics.

The Planemo Effect (2, Informative)

Nerd_52637 (938469) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477254)

A planemo, short for Planetary Mass Object, is a celestial object which is solitary and orbited by matter as if it were a star, but is actually a planet. Studies have shown that humans cannot differentiate between real active stars and these inert planets, wishing on both equally. Researchers call this the "Planemo Effect"

Planet? Star? Planetoid? ... Junk? (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477298)

It doesn't really matter. These objects, while interesting, and theoretically may have some useful information to discover, are going to reflect the same end result. They are what they are: objects in space. Debating the name or generalization we place these objects won't make a difference.
Or maybe I'm just a jerk today.

space.com is the Fox News of the Internet (1)

Lexor (724874) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477309)

space.com as believable as Fox News.

Shut their mic off !

Planemos? (2, Funny)

WgT2 (591074) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477500)

Must not have been any Spaniards at that observatory... at least none with any clout.

Unless there are and they're planning [wordreference.com] to name it something else later.

It has to be asked? (1, Offtopic)

xxdinkxx (560434) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477518)

do these planemos as they call it, run linux? now for my sig. www.mymegastores.com -- go there if you really want to move out of your parents basement

Re:It has to be asked? (1)

xxdinkxx (560434) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477525)

On a more serious note, Who is to say that there isnt an opposite to the structure of solar systems, where there are sun like objects orbiting either nothing (like a binary star) or a single planet ....
try two at my sig... www.mymegastores.com -- your solution for getting out of your parent's basement

Re:It has to be asked? (1)

nonlnear (893672) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477844)

More than two bodies of similar mass is highly unstable.

That's why there aren't any trinary stars (where all three are of similar mass) - AFAIK.

duh (1)

luna69 (529007) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477584)

Makes sense to me.

Stuff coalesces. Some is dense, some is not. that which is suficiently dense makes stellar systems. That which is mot does not. Pretty simple, I think.

(IAAA - 'I am an astronomer')

wrong debate? (1)

Bigos (857389) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477657)

the finding also deepens the debate over what makes a planet

Hmm, and I was wondering if the finding should start debate on what makes a star or stellar object, silly me

Oblig. MIB quote (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#15477884)

An article today on space.com discusses the discovery of 6 objects [CC] by the European Southern Observatory [CC] in Chile that are smaller than typical brown dwarfs, larger than Jupiter, and not orbiting any stars. ...
In addition to presenting astronomers with a new group of objects to study, the finding also deepens the debate over what makes a planet.


"You humans, when're you gonna learn that size doesn't matter? Just 'cause something's important doesn't mean it's not very, very small."


it's Mondas and co. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15477962)

run for your lives the cybermen are coming!

They are planets. (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 7 years ago | (#15478027)

"Planet" comes from the greek word "planitis" which means "adrift in a space". The word "plane" also comes from that root. So the term "planet" is correct for these celestial bodies that do not orbit a star.

A forming star? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15478080)

Couldn't these 'rogue planets' be future stars that are still in the process of forming? If they're surrounded by disks of gas they could be picking up more mass as time goes on, eventually becoming dense enough for nuclear fusion. If that happens solar wind could keep enough of the gas away from the newly formed star to begin forming true planets.
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