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48

Since we're talking about terminology, we need to remember that none of this really matters, outside of clarity when communicating. Still, some people tend to have rather strong opinions on it, thus confusion about how many planets are really in the solar system arises. The people The most trusted source in Astronomy would have to be the people that set ...


41

In addition to Undo's fine answer, I would like to explain a bit about the motivation behind the definition. When Eris was discovered, it turned out to be really, really similar to Pluto. This posed a bit of a quandary: should Eris be accepted as a new planet? Should it not? If not, then why keep Pluto? Most importantly, this pushed to the foreground the ...


29

It's too dim to be seen during a normal survey during the majority of its orbit. Update: Scientists at the University of Bern have modeled a hypothetical 10 Earth mass planet in the proposed orbit to estimate its detectability with more precision than my attempt below. The takeaway is that NASAs WISE mission would have probably spotted a planet of at ...


27

Brown and Batygin, the authors of the paper on the possible planet, have a webpage addressing this. A few reasons not already covered: It moves quite slowly - the authors estimate 0.2-0.6 arc seconds per hour - so standard surveys may not notice the movement and fail to recognize it as a solar system object. Eris, which is the most distant confirmed ...


20

Between $1/40,000$ and $1/8,000,000$ of the brightness as seen from Earth, depending on what the actual orbit would turn out to be, and where the planet is in its $15,000$ year orbit period. Brightness drops as $\dfrac{1}{r^2}$ with distance from the light source. Earth is at $1~\textrm{AU}.$ The theoretical planet is at $200~\textrm{AU}$ when it's closest ...


19

"It's believed that the Earth was rotating about once every 5 hours before the theorized collision with a Mars sized coorbiting object referred to as Theia." Almost. Theia did not have to be co-orbiting, just an intersecting orbit. We have no idea what the Earth's spin was before the collision, but it is theorized that the Earth rotation had a 5 ...


18

When an object is in orbit, there are two factors at play, not just one. The first, as you mention, is the force of gravity pulling the objects together. However, each object also has a momentum component which is generally (in the case of circular orbits) perpendicular to the direction of the gravity. If we look at the common situation of a small-mass ...


18

This graph from XKCD says a lot about why that is the case The bottom line is, the 9th planet is too small to be detected through WISE, and too far/small to have been detected through visible observation. Most likely this hypothetical planet is a long ways away, possibly as far as 1200 AU, and not particularly large, making it difficult to see. WISE was ...


16

There are many normal methods that we use to detect exoplanets, but none of them work well in the case of the 9th planet. Here are some of the main ones. Radial velocity. The Sun is not moving significantly with respect to Earth, and the hypothetical planet is too far away from the Sun to have much of an impact. Transit. This is obviously impossible, as ...


15

From an exoplanet-finding point of view, the Sun has between one and three planets. The major exoplanet-finding techniques in current use involve watching for either periodic Doppler shifts as the planet's gravitational pull causes the star to wobble, or periodic brightness shifts as the planet transits the star. Both require that the planet is large ...


13

I've also heard that people in the past knew about orbits even when they thought that Earth was at the center of the solar system. How did they figure this out in their times with their technology? The same celestial objects (stars, planets, the Moon) could be seen every year. So, people figured out there was a pattern to it. At first, geocentrism was ...


12

You could confirm with taking an image of the star trails. They would form a circle with the apparent center at the zenith of the location. You do not need a pole star at all. Just a night of viewing. You would also be able to tell based on the height above the horizon that the sun is. On the equinox, the sun would be on the horizon at noon (when it is ...


12

Unfortunately, the paper is not available on ArXiv (oh, what hardships we must overcome!), but I have found it here. In it, where the "900" figure is mentioned (2nd page, I believe), the authors (Trujillo and Sheppard) say that they ran simulations with the data already found and their additional findings, and found that 900$^{+800}_{-500}$ bodies larger ...


12

Yes, Pluto is still a dwarf planet. According to the IAU website, it still fits the criteria for a dwarf planet, fails to meet the criteria for a planet, and still carries the "dwarf planet" label, whatever its future status may be. I'm sorry I can't provide a longer or more detailed answer, but this is really a yes-or-no question.


11

Assume the planet has a negligible mass compared to the star, that both are spherically symmetric (so Newton's law of gravitation holds, but this normally happens to a very good approximation anyway), and that there aren't any forces besides the gravity between them. If the first condition does not hold, then the acceleration of each is going to be towards ...


11

This is a very common question, yet very hard to answer if you prefer a clear, concise, uncontroversial answer that applies to all situations. So I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to describe your main options, and let you choose. Be aware that you'll make the choice while still not knowing much about optics. So, in a sense, it will be just the ...


11

No, they can't. Gravity waves from a small, simple object moving slowly are very, very faint, to the point of being undetectable with current (or foreseeable) technology. The waves that have been detected come from the merger (a very fast movement in the last orbits) of two black holes (two very big masses). And they were just detected over the noise ...


10

Gravity assists such as this are a form of elastic collision. There's a bit of number crunching here (hopefully no mistakes!), so you'll want to be familiar with the basics of momentum, kinetic energy, and the conservation thereof. Question: If Ceres (the largest known asteroid and nearly 500 km in diameter) used Earth to perform a gravity assist to ...


10

Planets For a body to be classified as a planet it must have a few physical characteristics: Mass It must have enough mass to have a strong enough gravity to overcome electrostatic forces to bring it to a state of hydrostatic equilibrium. Hydrostatic equilibrium is important because early in a planets life it is nearly entirely fluid, crust and all ...


10

There is one known pair of moons in the solar system that seemingly swap orbits every couple of years. That's Saturn's Epimetheus and Janus. Their orbits are so close together that they interact gravitationally every couple of years (when the inner moon catches up to the outer moon), so that the outer moon is slowed down, and the inner moon is accelerated. ...


10

There are other formulas at work, but not any other forces. You need to take into account ont only the force, thus the acceleration, but also the current velocity of a body orbiting another. To put it simply: if you move a ball sticked to a rope around your head, the only forces are the tension of the rope and gravity towards the floor. Ignoring gravity, ...


10

The answer is the Coriolis effect, on Earth this produces cells within which storms move, converging towards the cell boundaries as you can see below. Jupiter however spins much faster that the Earth which produces a stronger Coriolis effect and thus more cells. This is the reason why there are so many different coloured bands on Jupiter (see image below). ...


9

As the planets evolve during their protoplanetary stage and accrete materials from the protoplanetary disks, which are gravitationally collapsing interstellar dust and gases, these accreted particles retain some of the angular momentum from the materials they form from and being in constant motion.      ...


9

The answer is Mercury. Plutonium was made after Pluto was discovered.


9

Those are model calculations, which hint to the existence of a possible body of about 10-times the mass of Earth. Calling this a discovery would clearly be premature. The confidence level is just a little above the "evidence" level of 3 sigma, under the assumption, that the discoveries of the KBO objects leading to the inference aren't observationally ...


9

The parallax is found from a triangle with the Earth's orbit at its base. The annual parallax here would then be between 1/200 and 1/1000 radians ($\sim$ 1000 to 200 arcseconds) which is indeed enormous and much bigger than the likely proper motion during a year.


9

If it exists, then the orbit has a perihelion of maybe 300 au and an aphelion of perhaps 2700 au. You can then just scale from the brightness $m=-26.7$ of the Sun at the Earth. It would be between 12.4 and 17.1 magnitudes fainter. So still much brighter than the next brightest star in the sky.


8

The surface gravity of a planet is very close to $$g=\frac{4\pi G}{3}\rho r.$$ With $g$ to be kept constant, and $\frac{4\pi G}{3}$ a constant, we need $\rho_Pr_P=\rho_Er_E$, or $$r_P=\frac{\rho_E}{\rho_P}r_E,$$ with $\rho_E=5.515 \mbox{ g}/\mbox{cm}^3$ the mean density of Earth, $r_E=6371.0 \mbox{ km}$ the mean radius of Earth, $\rho_P=22.59\mbox{ ...


8

This is a low accuracy - yet simple - answer It allows you to calculate only radial alignment configuration of the planets. If you would like an approximation, let's say, you approximate the position of the planets as hands in a clock, you could work the math out by something like this. Assume $\theta_i$ is the initial angle for planet $i$ at time $t_0$ - ...



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