Is Pluto a planet?

#Pluto #space #planet #solarsystem #asteroids #IAU

Pluto should be defined as a planet, along with over 100 celestial bodies in the solar system, including the moons of Jupiter and Earth, according to scientists who argue that the icy dwarf had been wrongly demoted.

Some years back, Pluto was demoted to the ‘non-planet’ status, which dropped the number of planets in our Solar System to 8. Pluto is an icy rock, and is nearly a fifth of diameter of the Earth., but due to the fact that Pluto does not move alone through its orbits (as there are some asteroids as well), excludes Pluto from the planet status as per the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Including the fact that planets should move alone through their orbit, a planet is a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion, has enough gravitational heft to maintain a roughly round shape, even if it bulges at the equator because of a three-way squeezes of forces created by its gravity and the influence of both the sun and a nearby larger planet.

However, researchers also believe that according to the IAU definition, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune will also be excluded from the Planet category since they share their orbits with asteroids.

Read the full article here.

Stunning images of the TRAPPIST-1 star system

#TRAPPIST1 #solarsystem #space #Kepler #NASA

As you can recall, the discovery of TRAPPIST-1 system was made using Spitzer Space Telescope in combination with ground-based telescopes. Curious about the TRAPPIST system, Kepler spacecraft was made to collect data on the star’s minuscule changes in brightness due to transiting planets, so as to refine the previous measurements of six planets, and know the orbital period & mass of the seventh planet. (By late May, the routine processing of the data will be completed and the fully calibrated data will be made available at the public archive)

The observation period for the Kepler spacecraft was 74 days, also known as the K2 Campaign 12. This is the longest, nearly continuous set of observations of TRAPPIST-1 yet, and provides researchers with an opportunity to further study the gravitational interaction between the seven planets, and search for planets that may remain undiscovered in the system.

Read the full article here.

A solar system, similar but much older than ours

L2 Puppis, a solar system about 208 light-years away from Earth. An international team of astronomers is using the ALMA radio telescope to study this solar system.

The L2 Puppis is about 10 billion years old, about twice the age of our Sun. Five billion years ago, the star was an almost perfect twin of our Sun as it is today, with the same mass. One third of this mass was lost during the evolution of the star.

Professor Leen Decin of KY Leuven Institute of Astronomy said that our Sun will become a giant red star and will be 100 times bigger than its current size, in a few billion years. This will probably lead to the destruction of closer planets like Mercury and Venus, though what will happen to the Earth is not yet known.

After that the sun will also experience an intense mass loss, which will reduce it to the size of the Earth but will be much heavier. This will probably happen about 7 billion years from now. Read the full article here!