Author Topic: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!  (Read 16338 times)

Telarus

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Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« on: November 13, 2010, 06:45:52 am »
http://news.discovery.com/space/pluto-might-be-bigger-but-eris-is-more-massive.html



    Analysis by Ian O'Neill
    Fri Nov 12, 2010 03:35 AM ET

Which is bigger: Eris or Pluto? Eris... right? Not so fast.

In 2005, the discovery of dwarf planet Eris started a chain of events that rocked the astronomical community and plutonites alike. Pluto was found to be smaller than Eris, causing the "ninth planet" to be demoted to a dwarf planet and be renamed with a "minor planet designator." (Although "134340 Pluto" does have a certain ring to it.)

The nine planets of the solar system became eight, astronomers argued, Illinois wrote some nutty laws, McDonalds tried to set the record straight, schoolkids went wild... In short, it wasn't pretty.

SLIDE SHOW: How important was the discovery of Eris? It was important enough to be selected as the Discovery News #4 top space story of the decade.

But! Last weekend, an extremely rare and exciting event happened, adding yet another twist in the "Is Pluto a planet?" debate. Eris drifted silently through the outermost reaches of the solar system, blocking the light from a single star, an event known as an "occultation."

Although the event was predicted by astronomers, there was some uncertainty about who would get the best view -- this is, after all, the first time an occultation has been used to measure an object so distant (Eris is twice as far away from the sun as Pluto). All they knew was that the occultation would be visible from somewhere in South America.

Right on time, the dwarf planet Eris blocked the star from view and three telescopes in Chile witnessed the star's disappearance.

The starlight blinked out for 27 seconds at the La Silla Observatory, located at the southernmost edge of the Atacama Desert. 740 kilmeters (460 miles) north, two telescopes at the San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations (SPACE) Observatory saw the dwarf planet block out starlight for 78 seconds.

Now, as astronomers know the orbital velocity of Eris, by using the background star as a marker, they could deduce the dwarf planet's diameter.

(The reason why the three telescope sites measured different occultation times is that Eris is spherical and therefore saw the starlight being blocked at different locations across Eris' disk.)

It turns out that Eris could be a lot smaller than previously thought. So small in fact that it is roughly the same size as Pluto! It could even be smaller.

"I have to say I find these new occultation measurements extremely exciting," Mike Brown, professor of planetary astronomy at Caltech and discoverer of Eris, told Discovery News.

"While everyone is more interested in the 'mine is bigger than yours' aspect, the real science is the shockingly large density of Eris."

From years of observing the motion of Eris' moon Dysnomia, a very accurate measure of the dwarf planet's mass has been arrived at. When it was thought Eris was larger than Pluto, it was logical to assume that both objects would have similar densities (and therefore similar compositions). However, these new measurements of Eris' size suggest it is smaller, and therefore more dense.

"No one would have predicted that the two largest objects in the Kuiper belt would be about the same size but have significantly different densities," Brown said. "You get big objects by accumulating smaller objects, so even if there is some variation in the smaller objects, by the time you get to the biggest ones you'd expect everything to be smoothed out. This is truly weird."

Occultation measurements are by their nature very accurate, and although more precision is needed before we get a definitive answer, Eris is certainly a lot smaller than it was thought to be.

"Almost certainly Eris has a radius smaller than 1,170 km [727 miles]," Bruno Sicardy, of the Paris Observatory, said in an email to Sky and Telescope Magazine. Pluto has a radius of approximately 1,172 kilometers (728 miles). Pluto therefore has an average density of 2.03 grams/cm3 and Eris has an average density of 2.5 grams/cm3.

These new observations have thrown up more questions than answers.

"Did [Pluto and Eris] come from very different places? Did they have very different histories?" Brown asks. "Something very different has been going on. And I don't know what."

Due to Brown's implication in Pluto's fall from planetary status -- a fact that is clear from the title of his upcoming book "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming" -- he added:
Quote
"Also, on the mine-is-bigger-than-yours part, it may turn out that Pluto is ever-so-slightly bigger than Eris, but Eris is more massive than Pluto and the entire asteroid belt put together. So there."

So where does this leave Pluto? Or should I say 134340 Pluto?

Addendum: Watch a video of the the occultation (thanks to Nancy at the Universe Today!):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxQ0b8p4cGY

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Nephew Twiddleton

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2010, 07:09:52 am »
Pluto (and Eris) is a planet. Fuck astonomical revisionism. My daddy taught me that Pluto was a planet, Sister Margaret Cunnigham taught me Pluto was a planet, and Mr. Malone taught me Pluto was a planet. So there. If it is spherical and doesn't engage in nuclear fusion, good enough for me.
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Elder Iptuous

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2010, 07:36:43 am »
(The reason why the three telescope sites measured different occultation times is that Eris is spherical and therefore saw the starlight being blocked at different locations across Eris' disk.)
no. it's obviously because it is apple shaped.

"While everyone is more interested in the 'mine is bigger than yours' aspect, the real science is the shockingly large density of Eris."
obviously composed primarily of gold.

AFK

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2010, 10:11:28 am »
Only tangentially related:

Neils DeGrasse Tyson made a guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory this past week where he was dressed down by Sheldon for demoting Pluto.  I stood up and cheered the fictitious occurrence. 
Cynicism is a blank check for failure.

hirley0

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2011, 06:09:06 pm »
Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.
Unless you're sure you want to reply, please consider starting a new topic.


acTUAlLY .. not SURE . then again fairley sure i'z not to interested in starting A new

going along anyway: it looked long & complicated | THUS i skipped to the end | YES: i'LL go back OVER iT

anyway i've begun my summer observations as this appartment has a very nice western Horizon
&I truly do LLUV it | besides my video camcorder broke (sliped a fan belt  | and now works only
as a CAM. | thus faces W only | last night from here (Portland OR) there was a 1 min iss ?
ISS
Fri Jul 01/09:55 PM 4 19 10 above W    11 above S
Sun Jul 03/09:38 PM 1 10 10 above WSW    10 above SW


i missed it but was watching inTENTly {hmm?

AS FAR AS THIS THREAD GOES | wiLl i be trusting in BROWN | of course NOT
he is way to light on generalities | Like North or south | HemisphericaLLy
and way way to heavy on sPacific facts like 1 3 5 7 | odds R I won't TrusT
anuy of them OR their videos.


of course i did

NAVY 10:40
what i'LL be doing in the short term iss trying to video isS | is ThaT clear
then move along to the Lunar distance in Mili Second at the speed of Blue
light & also at the Speed at REd lights ( U know ) the SodIUM Pear


10:41 pdT
« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 06:41:55 pm by hirley0 »

AFK

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2011, 01:38:35 pm »
REINSTATE PLUTO!  REINSTATE PLUTO!  FUCKING FASCIST ASSTROPHYSICISTS!
Cynicism is a blank check for failure.

hirley0

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2011, 04:25:28 pm »
45 EOD  color green missing. scal incomplete . :45 07:46:12 AM by SLOWedhirley0
42 the ORb of dYs would be in the Plane (\) and cross E Like Moon/J
37&40 #10 on: Today at 07:35:56 AM | if thos Numbers were even true
?34? Today at 07:30:33 AM  | four: i see the ORbit about ERis is Like (O).
:29: i 4get {sad }} | #7 on: Today at 07:28:54 AM  | oh yeah Navy :7:32
07:25:28 AM REMemBrr thats board Time (pdT-1hr) SomeWhere off Shore
20110705 8:2? pdT lowLy distancing myself from the REVerEND {bottoms UP ^
 :
 :
 =
  -
 =
 :
 :
REINSTATE PLUTO!  REINSTATE PLUTO!  FUCKING FASCIST ASSTROPHYSICISTS!
« Last Edit: July 05, 2011, 04:47:53 pm by hirley0 »

Nephew Twiddleton

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2011, 04:28:54 pm »
20110705 8:2? pdT lowLy distancing myself from the REVerEND {bottoms UP ^

REINSTATE PLUTO!  REINSTATE PLUTO!  FUCKING FASCIST ASSTROPHYSICISTS!

RWHN and I like the idea of Pluto being a planet. He often feels more strongly about it than I do.
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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2011, 04:29:48 pm »
REINSTATE PLUTO!  REINSTATE PLUTO!  FUCKING FASCIST ASSTROPHYSICISTS!

:mittens:

AFK

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2011, 04:30:33 pm »
I think that is the first thing I've ever read from hirley that I actually understood.  

Also:

PLUTONIANS REPRESENT!  
Cynicism is a blank check for failure.

Nephew Twiddleton

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2011, 04:35:56 pm »
I think that is the first thing I've ever read from hirley that I actually understood.  

Also:

PLUTONIANS REPRESENT!  

He's been making sense to me lately. But only once he started responding to people's posts. Context perhaps?
Steely-Eyed Replicant Frottage Master of Yesterday's Lost Glory
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AFK

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2011, 04:45:08 pm »
It just may, Nephew Twiddleton.

It just may. 
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PopeTom

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2011, 05:23:40 pm »
What they should do is teach both that Pluto is a planet and is not a planet in public schools and let the children decide for themselves based on the evidence.
-PopeTom

I am the result of 13.75 0.13 billion years of random chance. Now that I exist I see no reason to start planning and organizing everything in my life.

Random dumb luck got me here, random dumb luck will get me to where I'm going.

Hail Eris!

AFK

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2011, 05:30:04 pm »
That sounds like commie talk to me!

Fuck Science!  Pluto is Planet or GTFO!

Cynicism is a blank check for failure.

Nephew Twiddleton

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Re: Eris shocks astrophysicists.... AGAIN!
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2011, 05:31:41 pm »
Is spherical and orbits a star. Good enough for me.
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