|| Home. | Universe Galaxies And Stars Archives. | |
|| Universe | Big Bang | Galaxies | Stars | Solar System | Planets | Hubble Telescope | NASA | Search Engine ||
Is Pluto a Planet or just a large Kuiper belt Object.
Researchers have used the Cassini spacecraft to make observations of Saturn's rings with tremendous clarity, resolving images down to the size of a football field. A team from the University of Colorado at Boulder have used a technique called "stellar occultation" to look through the rings at a distant star, and then watch how the ring particles obscure it. The ring material bunches up into denser areas, with gaps between them as small as 50 metres (160 feet). This is unusual, because they should be spreading out in the vacuum of space - this means that small objects, like moons, are stirring up the material in the rings like ripples in a pond.
Is Pluto a planet or just a really large Kuiper belt Object (KBO)? Those arguing that it doesn't deserve planetary status will have to reconsider because of new research from the Spitzer Space Telescope. It was previously believed that KBOs were fairly dark, with a similar reflectivity to comets. From the reflectivity, Astronomers guessed that KBOs are quite large, some getting as big as 700 km (434 miles) across. But new observations from Spitzer show that they're probably more reflective than previously thought, and therefore much smaller. This means that Pluto is probably still significantly larger than other objects in the Kuiper Belt.
The countdown has begun for the launch of the Planetary Society's Cosmos 1 spacecraft; the first ever to be powered by a solar sail. The privately built spacecraft will be lofted into orbit atop a Volna rocket on March 1, 2005. Once Cosmos 1 is in orbit, it will unfurl 8 triangular solar sails, and then use the sails to propel the spacecraft through the pressure of light from the Sun. Cosmos 1 wasn't designed for a long-term trip into space, so it's likely not to last too much longer than a few weeks, or months at the most, but it should serve as a working concept to help designers plan future spacecraft.
NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory took this image of Red Dwarf star Proxima Centauri, our closest stellar neighbour (after the Sun, of course). The image shows that its surface is in a constant state of turmoil, with flares occurring almost continuously. Proxima Centauri has only 1/10th the mass of our own Sun, and the conversion of Hydrogen to helium happens much more slowly. This creates turbulent, convective motion throughout its interior, which stores up magnetic energy - the energy is what creates all the flares.
New images released from the Spitzer space telescope are helping scientists understand how clouds of gas and dust come together to form new solar systems. One image shows a dim object at the heart of an icy cloud, which resembles our own early solar system. This object isn't a star... yet, but it could be a young failed star, a brown dwarf, a star which has yet to ignite, or something else entirely. In another image, Spitzer looked at the centre of a dusty disc around a young star and found icy building blocks that will eventually form into planets - similar to how our planets looked when they were only a few hundred thousand years old.
Go To Print Article
Universe - Galaxies and Stars: Links and Contacts
|| GNU License | Contact | Copyright | WebMaster | Terms | Disclaimer | Top Of Page. ||