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This page contains all of the posts and discussion on MemeStreams referencing the following web page: Makemake: Fourth Dwarf Planet Named For Polynesian God. You can find discussions on MemeStreams as you surf the web, even if you aren't a MemeStreams member, using the Threads Bookmarklet.

Makemake: Fourth Dwarf Planet Named For Polynesian God
by Stefanie at 10:45 am EDT, Jul 22, 2008

There's been a lot of astronomy news lately. Anyway, 2005 FY9 is now Makemake. It's a shame... "2005 FY9" had such a nice ring to it.

A dwarf planet circling the sun out beyond the orbit of Neptune has been rechristened Makemake after a Polynesian god and designated the third of the solar system's new class of plutoids, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced Saturday.

Makemake is a small, red-tinged world that ranks among the largest objects in the outer solar system. But it is still smaller and dimmer than the already demoted dwarf planet Pluto, which astronomers reclassified as a plutoid last month.

EDIT 1: I had assumed that last part (my bold) was a typo, as Pluto is still listed as a dwarf planet, going back to 2006. Apparently, that's not a typo: Pluto's Identity Crisis Hits Classrooms and Bookstores . Geez... I can't even keep up.

The Makemake article itself is rather matter-of-fact, but the comments below the article are amusing. There's still a lot of fighting over the reclassification of Pluto.

Current IAU definitions (Wikipedia):

A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.

A dwarf planet is a celestial body orbiting the Sun that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity but which has not cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals and is not a satellite. The body has to have sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces in order to assume a hydrostatic equilibrium and acquire a near-spherical shape.

All other objects orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as Small Solar System Bodies. These currently include most of the Solar System asteroids, comets, the centaurs and Neptune Trojans, most Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), and other small bodies. It is not presently clear whether a lower size bound will be established as part of the definition of Small Solar System Bodies in the future, or if it will encompass all material down to the level of meteoroids.

A natural satellite or moon is a celestial body that orbits a planet or smaller body, which is called the primary.

A meteoroid is a small sand to boulder-sized particle of debris in the Solar System.

EDIT 2: A plutoid is a trans-Neptunian dwarf planet. The IAU developed this category of astronomical objects as a consequence of its 2006 resolution defining the word "planet". The IAU's formal definition of 'plutoid,' announced 11 June 2008, is:

Plutoids are celestial bodies in orbit around the Sun at a semimajor axis greater than that of Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical) shape, and that have not cleared the neighbourhood around their orbit. Satellites of plutoids are not plutoids themselves.

RE: Makemake: Fourth Dwarf Planet Named For Polynesian God
by Stefanie at 11:08 am EDT, Jul 22, 2008

This one deserves a new post, rather than an edit...

Pluto Now Called a Plutoid

Pluto's years-long identity crisis just got more complex today.

The International Astronomical Union has decided on the term "plutoid" as a name for Pluto and other objects that just two years ago were redefined as "dwarf planets."

The surprise decision is unlikely to stem ongoing controversy and confusion, astronomers say.

Sidestepping concerns of many astronomers worldwide, the IAU's decision, at a meeting of its Executive Committee in Oslo, comes almost two years after it stripped Pluto of its planethood and introduced the term "dwarf planets" for Pluto and other small round objects that often travel highly elliptical paths around the sun in the far reaches of the solar system.

"Most of the people in astronomy and planetary science community had no idea this was going to come out," said Hal Weaver of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Weaver called the process that produced the new definition "sort of outdated, outmoded, archaic."

"In this day and age of transparency and mass communication, it seems a bit strange that such an important pronouncement would come out with so few people knowing about it, and, apparently, with no serious attempt to vet this with more people in the community," Weaver said.

A meeting in August at the Applied Physics Laboratory is slated to debate the entire topic of defining planets. Meanwhile, other astronomers said the new definition needed more definition or that it might simply not be used.

"This seems like an unattractive term and an unnecessary one to me," said David Morrison, an astronomer at NASA's Ames Research Center who, in 2006, said the IAU's actions on Pluto have created major rifts among astronomers.

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