Bad news for Pluto as 10th planet is sized up
The planet Pluto discovered in 1930 by American Clyde
Tombaugh is losing its place as the largest solar system
object to be spotted since the discovery of Neptune in
1846, as presented in a study published in Nature.
Astronomers led by Mr. Frank Bertoldi of the University of
Bonn in Germany measured the reflected solar radiation from
UB313, by using a 30-metre telescope in Spain. This method
gave them a fairly accurate idea of the size of the planet
UB313, whose discoverers claim it to be the 10th planet.
An American team announced the discovery of UB313 on 30th
July 2005. The planet, located at some 15 billion
kilometers from Earth caused a controversy as Pluto’s
defenders termed UB313 not as a planet but a vulgar rock.
The gentle term used for such a collection of estimated
100,000 pieces of icy, primeval debris that sluggishly move
round the Sun, on the periphery of the solar system, far
away from the orbit of the Neptune, is a KBO – Kuiper Belt
Supporters of UB313 on the other hand retort that if anyone
deserves the name of KBO, it is Pluto because it has an
uncanny orbital plane inclined at an angle of 17 degrees to
the plane in which all the eight other planets are located.
The oval shaped path of Neptune is so irregular that for 20
years of its 248 years orbital period, it lies within the
track of Neptune itself.
The measurements made so far indicate UB313 to have a
diameter of 3000 km. Mr. Michael Brown, a California
Institute of Technology (Caltech) astronomer estimated that
the new planet is one per cent larger than Pluto. He has
based his calculation on an image sent last December by
NASA’s orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.