PLANET X!

What should this new planet be named?

From AP:

Scientists: Good evidence for 9th planet in solar system

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Scientists reported Wednesday they finally have “good evidence” for Planet X, a true ninth planet on the fringes of our solar system.

The gas giant is thought to be almost as big as Neptune and orbiting billions of miles beyond Neptune’s path — distant enough to take 10,000 to 20,000 years to circle the sun.

This Planet 9, as the two California Institute of Technology researchers call it, hasn’t been spotted yet. They base their findings on mathematical and computer modeling, and anticipate its discovery via telescope within five years or less.

The two reported on their research Wednesday in the Astronomical Journal because they want people to help them look for it.

“We could have stayed quiet and quietly spent the next five years searching the skies ourselves and hoping to find it. But I would rather somebody find it sooner, than me find it later,” astronomer Mike Brown told The Associated Press.

“I want to see it. I want to see what it looks like. I want to understand where it is, and I think this will help.”

Once it’s detected, Brown insists there will be no Pluto-style planetary debate. Brown ought to know; he’s the so-called Pluto killer who helped lead the charge against Pluto’s planetary status in 2006. (It’s now officially considered a dwarf planet.) [BOOOO!]

 

[…]”This is a prediction. What we have found is a gravitational signature of Planet 9 lurking in the outskirts of the solar system,’ Batygin said. “We have not found the object itself,” he stressed, adding that the actual discovery when it happens will be “era-defining.”

 

[…]The orb — believed to be 10 times more massive than Earth and 5,000 times more massive than dwarf Pluto — may well have rings and moons.

The last real planet to be discovered in our solar system was Neptune in 1846. Pluto, discovered in 1930, was once the 9th planet but is now considered a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt. It was visited by Earth for the first time last July; NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft accomplished the first-ever flyby.

 

[…]

Read the whole thing there.

Yes, we need to start a project to name this new planet.   Although…. Planet X is pretty spiffy. Planet Z would be better.

UPDATE:

BTW… check out APOD today HERE for the “Running Chicken Nebula”.

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32 Responses to PLANET X!

  1. …then wouldn’t it be Planet IX…? Unless of course we’re still counting Pluto, then Planet X it is.

    If it’s truly the ninth, then Ix might work.

  2. Joe in Canada says:

    Planeta nono is nice, or Planet Z. How about Plutoo?

  3. acricketchirps says:

    Obviously we should give its inhabitants first chance to name it.

  4. anilwang says:

    The irony is, that if it is Kuiper Belt, it’s likely that it has *not* cleared all the debris around it. So it must be classified (like Pluto) to be a dwarf planet by the definition he pushed forward even though it’s far bigger than Earth.

    If that happens, it would be interesting to see if the Planetary Society sticks to its guns and calls this giant a dwarf planet, or if they use hand waving to justify the exception, or if they go back to the drawing board and come up with a more sensible classification for what Pluto is (and the hundreds of other “dwarf planets” in our solar system are) and how they can be distinguished from planets.

  5. Fr. Ó Buaidhe says:

    Poseidon

  6. @Fr. Ó Buaidhe that one was already taken (by the planet Neptune)

    Going off of the name theme that the other planets (except Earth) share, do we have any Roman names of Greek gods left we can use?

  7. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Quirinius and Vulcan would be the two biggest Roman deities whose names aren’t used for major objects in the Solar System. Generally I’d be happy with either of those, but given what the leftist/fifth-column/criminal element of society would do with Quirinius these days, I’ll side with Vulcan.

  8. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Phooey. I meant Quirinus not Quirinius above.

  9. Fr. Ó Buaidhe says:

    @ Catholic Tech Geek I know what I wrote and I know why, too.

  10. Hans says:

    Leaving aside the temptation to make the easy snide remarks about astronomers and their arbitrary distinctions (we physicists would ¡never! do that), this story isn’t really new. Pluto was found trying to find a planetary explanation for the gravitational drag on the orbits of the inner planets; it’s a problem we did in mechanics class as juniors decades ago. That was one reason it was expected that Pluto would be larger than it turned out to be when Charon was discovered in 1978. When Pluto turned out to be smaller than required to account for the observed orbital discrepancies, the question was definitely reopened.

    So this calculation may be more refined than previous ones, but the general conclusion that there must be another large planet somewhere isn’t either original or surprising. One problem is that we really can’t know how big (in the sense of how much mass it has) a newly-discovered planet is until, like Pluto, we find something orbiting it. Until then, there will be exactly the same question that originally was asked about Pluto: How big is it?

    If I were cynical (and maybe I am just a little), given his explanation for ‘sharing’ his calculation, I would say that Doc Brown is trying to claim at least a share of the credit for someone else’ independent discovery. It’s not as if nobody else knew about this problem or wasn’t already looking for such a planet.

  11. Imrahil says:

    Well, let’s give our women their due. I don’t see any Minerva or Vesta around… apart from some tiny asteroids…

    but let’s face it, if the new planet is to take what was once Pluto’s place in the planet list… what other name could be possibly appropriate than Proserpina?

    also a name of some tiny asteroid… But they all are, or, in the case of Vulcan, hypothetical planets (Quirinus isn’t, but Romulus is). So if the thing’s an actual planet, we might just switch the name…

  12. Michelle F says:

    What about Juno? Is that name taken?

  13. oldconvert says:

    Okay, this is a dumb question; I know I’m thick, so don’t bother telling me so, but….how come astronomers can see images from way outside our solar system ( the spectacular stuff from Hubble alone) and yet can’t find a putative member of our own system? Answers should be simple but kind, please.

  14. JuliB says:

    Pluto, because I’m still bitter.

  15. MarkJ says:

    Apollo, in honor of Man’s first voyages to another body in the solar system.

  16. Seattle Slough says:

    There can only be one name for 9. Planet Ed Wood.

  17. VeritasVereVincet says:

    I suspect they would not give the current name of an asteroid to any new planet.

    I nominate Planet X to remain its name, as, if it exists, it will be the tenth planet.

    The last real planet to be discovered in our solar system was Neptune in 1846.

    Ohhhhhh boy, that gets me pretty hot under the collar, so I will merely say that 1) the 2006 Solar System-only definition was written specifically to exclude Pluto, and 2) 5% of the astronomy community does not get to rewrite the map of the heavens. Pluto will be a planet as long as people say it is a planet, which we do, ergo est.

  18. Auggie says:

    It’s time we got some good Catholic names up there in the sky…
    Planet Frideswide would be nice.

  19. Gregg the Obscure says:

    oldconvert – the found objects that are more distant are either (1) luminous on their own or (2) massive objects near luminous objects that are noticed by the shadows they cast. The new planet would reflect only trivial amounts of light and even less shadow.

    Imrahil – did you forget Venus?

  20. Zephyrinus says:

    A new Ninth Planet, eh ?

    How about PIO NONO ?

  21. pseudomodo says:

    “They base their findings on mathematical and computer modeling…”

    Therefore maybe not real….like Global Warming…

    :-)

  22. Vincent says:

    Still amuses me that as humans we have to have a definition for everything – why do we have to have a planet binary? Why does a planet have to be a planet or not a planet? Why can’t people just let all the rocks in the solar system decide whether they want to be planets or not and then ‘classify’ appropriately? Did anyone consider Pluto’s feelings before shaming it in front of all the other planets by pointing out that it was ‘different’?

    What right have we to decide on what ‘Planet’ X is? Let it grow up and then it can decide in its own time whether it wants to be a planet or not.

  23. msc says:

    Any of the children of Nyx that haven’t been used for moons would be good: I’d favour Hypnos (Sleep, often associated with death in Greek myth and thought) or Geras (Old Age).

  24. Imrahil says:

    The problem with Apollo (and with Diana) is that these are of old associated with some rather prominent bodies, to wit, the Sun (and Moon). Sure, some also say Helios was the son of a Titan; it’s mythology…

    This is probably why the Moon-mission was named Apollo, because Apollo is not the moon. I digress. After all, VW named their top-class car after the pert son of the Son who wanted to drive his father’s car without a license, and completely messed it up. I digress again.

    Given the lot of asteroids, most are taken. Maybe (Europeans will get the allusion, I don’t know how well-known Asterix and Obelix is over the pond but they rank with Donald Duck here) “Teutates” is still free…

    Maybe, as somewhat on the outer fringe, we might think of Oceanus or Thetis. Is that still free?

  25. Imrahil says:

    Well, no, I didn’t forget Venus. It’s a prominent planet and I don’t think we should rename it :-)

  26. iamlucky13 says:

    “The irony is, that if it is Kuiper Belt, it’s likely that it has *not* cleared all the debris around it. “

    That’s not necessarily true. Actually, if it’s as big as suspected, it is probably not true.

    The criteria of clearing an orbit refers to a specific (singular) orbit. The Kuiper Belt refers to a zone – a very large one in fact, 20 times as wide as the distance from the earth to the sun – within which there is room for numerous large objects to have orbits cleared of other significant objects.

    It’s also a mostly empty zone. When the team went looking for a Kuiper Belt Object for the New Horizons spacecraft to study after it did its groundbreaking flyby of Pluto, they spent 3 years searching and only found 3 within range.

    @ VeritasVereVincet

    “Ohhhhhh boy, that gets me pretty hot under the collar, so I will merely say that 1) the 2006 Solar System-only definition was written specifically to exclude Pluto, and 2) 5% of the astronomy community does not get to rewrite the map of the heavens. Pluto will be a planet as long as people say it is a planet, which we do, ergo est.”

    1.) No it wasn’t. It was written to create a definition that could be consistently applied. A lot of possible definitions were considered that resulted in contradictions when considering certain similar objects. The one that was settled on happened to exclude Pluto

    2.) There’s no police who will stop people from calling Pluto what they want (especially since calling it a planet is only leaving one adjective off its official terminology), but in the catalogs, it will remain listed as a dwarf planet unless and until astronomers decide on a different definition. There’s a lot of them not happy about how the 2006 decision was made, but few seem interested in actually challenging it, which they could if they really thought it was a bad definition.

    Don’t get worked up over our first quantitative definition of a planet. The only effect it has is to move Pluto, Eris, and a few other bodies from one list in official records to another list.

  27. Hans says:

    oldconvert, there are (at least) three reasons why it’s hard to find this putative planet:
    I) It’s really small and there’s lots of places to look, even making the reasonable assumption that its orbit is somewhere near the ecliptic as conservation of angular momentum requires and the observed gravitational effects suggest (it’s like looking for a specific smallish rock in a big field, though we know it’s probably in the middle part of the field);
    II) There are lots of stars and other points of light that might be it and need to be excluded, and it’s probably not very bright since it’s so far away even if it’s a gas giant, and we can’t really tell just by looking how far away things are (it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, where the needle looks a lot like the hay and is probably hard to see and the harder you look the more hay you’ll see in a given direction);
    III) It can really only be identified by relative motion against the ‘fixed’ stars, but because it’s so far away, that motion will be very slow, very very slow (did that stick move?).

    So if you look in the right direction and happen to record X along with all the other lights, you have to then see it again to notice it move, and then again to calculate an orbit for it. In a year, according to Doc Brown’s figures, X will travel less 0.04° against the background.

    There are also, as you say, much that makes such a search easier than it was in Clyde Tombaugh’s time, but the problem starts at least at very very hard.

  28. iamlucky13 says:

    @oldconvert

    “Okay, this is a dumb question; I know I’m thick, so don’t bother telling me so, but….how come astronomers can see images from way outside our solar system ( the spectacular stuff from Hubble alone) and yet can’t find a putative member of our own system? Answers should be simple but kind, please.”

    It’s not a dumb question. It’s a common question from those not well versed in astronomy.

    In a nutshell, the distant nebulae and even galaxies that Hubble produces spectacular images of are an unfathomable amount bigger and brighter. Neptune alone is the equivalent of the size of a grain of sand at the other end of a football field, while one of the most famous images of Hubble of the Eagle Nebula is equivalent to the size of a soccer ball at that distance.

    It takes large telescopes to detect such small, faint objects, but large telescopes can only scan a very small piece of the sky at a time, so the further out you’re trying to see, the long it takes to search the whole sky.

  29. andia says:

    If we are going with Catholic names,

    Ignatius,

    Dominic

    Francis

    would be my choices.

  30. JCF says:

    How about Planet XP (Chi Rho)?

  31. Akita says:

    Jerome.

  32. There’s really only one choice. Melancholia. From the awful but occasionally beautiful movie of the same name by Lars Von Trier. It absorbs Earth, and only really depressed people are happy.