Agriculture
Where Have All the Bees Gone?
Middle school science adventures
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Amphibians
Toads
Bullfrogs
Poison Dart Frogs
Animals
Tool Use Comes Naturally to Crows
Glimpses of a Legendary Woodpecker
Chicken Talk
Behavior
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
A Recipe for Happiness
Math is a real brain bender
Birds
Albatrosses
Kookaburras
Flightless Birds
Chemistry and Materials
Atom Hauler
Boosting Fuel Cells
The hungry blob at the edge of the universe
Computers
The hungry blob at the edge of the universe
The solar system's biggest junkyard
A Classroom of the Mind
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Ancient Critter Caught Shedding Its Skin
Winged Insects May Go Way Back
Message in a dinosaur's teeth
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Deep Drilling at Sea
Drilling Deep for Fuel
Snowflakes and Avalanches
Environment
The Down Side of Keeping Clean
A Vulture's Hidden Enemy
Plastic Meals for Seals
Finding the Past
Prehistoric Trips to the Dentist
Little People Cause Big Surprise
Unearthing Ancient Astronomy
Fish
Angler Fish
Electric Catfish
Mahi-Mahi
Food and Nutrition
How Super Are Superfruits?
Building a Food Pyramid
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
GSAT English Rules
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Who vs. Whom
Capitalization Rules
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Preparing for the GSAT Exam
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Mathematics
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Prime Time for Cicadas
Math Naturals
Human Body
Gut Germs to the Rescue
The tell-tale bacteria
Spitting Up Blobs to Get Around
Invertebrates
Bees
Lice
Worms
Mammals
Ferrets
Black Bear
Yaks
Parents
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
Children and Media
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Physics
Gaining a Swift Lift
Powering Ball Lightning
IceCube Science
Plants
Springing forward
Underwater Jungles
A Giant Flower's New Family
Reptiles
Caimans
Turtles
Garter Snakes
Space and Astronomy
A Puffy Planetary Puzzle
Evidence of a Wet Mars
Chaos Among the Planets
Technology and Engineering
Space Umbrellas to Shield Earth
A Light Delay
Crime Lab
The Parts of Speech
What is a Noun
What is a Preposition?
Problems with Prepositions
Transportation
How to Fly Like a Bat
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Weather
Watering the Air
Where rivers run uphill
Antarctica warms, which threatens penguins
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™