Saturday, July 30, 2005

10th planet discovered... maybe.

I note several reports of astronomers claiming to have discovered a 10th planet in our solar system. For me, it was deja vu since I distinctly recall there being a big ballyhoo about another "10th planet" discovery back in 2002. The object discovered then was named "Quaoar" (pronounced kwah-o-wahr) and the announcement immediately sparked a debate about whether it was a planet or a large "object" in the debris field just outside our solar system called the Kuiper Belt. This, in turn, started a discussion about whether or not Pluto was really a planet, or just another Kuiper Belt object like Quaoar.

This recent discovery is basically following the same path. I note that, unlike Quaoar, no one's rushing to name this one. Perhaps they want to wait to see how this debate falls out.