Kirby Runyon wants to make one thing clear: regardless of what one prestigious scientific organization says to the contrary, Pluto is a planet. So, he says, is Europa, commonly known as a moon of Jupiter, and so is the Earth's moon, and so are more than 100 other celestial bodies in our solar system that are denied this status under the prevailing definition of 'planet.'
The New Horizons flyby of Pluto and its satellites returned a scientific treasure trove of information about these distant and surprisingly complex worlds, showing a vast nitrogen glacier as well as ice mountains, canyons, cliffs, craters and more. Now the categories for official names have been approved and the name proposals can be submitted by the New Horizons team.
The dynamical properties of these asteroids, observed spectroscopiccally for the first time using the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, suggest a possible common origin and give a clue to the existence of a planet beyond Pluto, the so-called 'Planet Nine.'
Many scientists believe the Earth was initially dry and that water, carbon and nitrogen -- the building blocks for life -- likely came as a result of collisions with objects that began their lives in the cold outer reaches of our solar system. Today, scientists report discovery of the existence of just such an object -- one that once orbited a neighboring star.
For the first time, scientists have witnessed a massive object with the makeup of a comet being ripped apart and scattered in the atmosphere of a white dwarf, the burned-out remains of a compact star.
A new study provides additional insight into relationship between Pluto and its moon, Charon, and how it affects the continuous stripping of Pluto's atmosphere by solar wind. When Charon is positioned between the sun and Pluto, the research indicates that the moon can significantly reduce atmospheric loss.