Friday, August 11, 2006

From Mercury to.... Xena?

A tenth planetary body has been discovered! The IAU, which is a committee for astronomy will decide on the planetary body's status. There is a little bit of controversy as to the upcoming decision. Apparently there is a field of debris starting at Neptune and contuining outside of our solar system named the Kuiper belt. There is no official way for determing a planet. And Mercury itself has been named the "largest object in the Kuiper belt"

So this decision could go one of three ways. First, we could gain a 10th planet. The committees would choose the name. However most of the Greek/Roman gods' names are already taken. One of the nicknames give the object was Xena. I find that pretty cool. This is my personal favorite outcome. And probably the least likely.

Second, they could determine that "Xena" is not a planet... but neither is Mercury. That would bring our planet count to eight. Now as pragmatic as scientists are *supposed* to be, this is the least likely outcome. You have to remember, this is being determined by committee. That means they're afraid to upset the status quo. And as planets go, Mercury is status quo. We like our dear dark planet from the Netherworld. So I vote to give Mercury a companion planet!

Third (and most likely), the IAU will decide that "Xena" is not a planet but just a Kuiper anomaly. (Don't you love that word!) And Mercury will keep its status.

It would be nice if the IAU would determine what is a planet and how one applies for planetdom. But I am sure they are bogged down in red tape and would be unable to make such a logical step. Much like post-communist countries. And I can make that statement, afterall, I am the BIG RED HAMMER.

Vote for Xena!

1 comment:

Madam_Author said...

Well, there is actually still debate in some circles on whether or not Pluto is a planet. They really need to come up with a fixed definition of a planet. And then there is Sedna--google it--a planetoid or planet that is way out beyond Pluto (REALLY really way out there, go to for a graph)