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But What is a Planet?

The Earth is a Planet


“Planet” is not as easily defined as once thought!
“Planet” is not as easily defined as once thought!

What do you think are the important factors?


“Planet” is not as easily defined as once thought!

What do you think are the important factors?


Size? Shape? Orbits the sun? Location of orbit?
“Planet” is not as easily defined as once thought!

What do you think are the important factors?


Size? Shape? Orbits the sun? Location of orbit?
“Planet” is not as easily defined as once thought!

What do you think are the important factors?


Size? Shape? Orbits the sun? Location of orbit?
“Planet” is not as easily defined as once thought!

What do you think are the important factors?


Size? Shape? Orbits the sun? Location of orbit?
Ganymede is bigger than Mercury
Ganymede is bigger than Mercury

Is it a planet?
No, Ganymede is a moon around Jupiter!
Comets and Asteroids orbit the Sun

Are they planets?


No, Comets and Asteroids are too small…

… and they‟re not round!


Is Pluto a planet?

Artist’s Conception of Pluto


Is Pluto a planet?

What do you think?


Is Pluto
definition of a planet. The
current working definition of a
“planet” is based on size and
where the object is found:

Size: A mass small enough that


thermonuclear fusion of
deuterium does not occur. This
makes an upper limit of about 13
times the size of Jupiter. The
lower limit on size should be that
used in our own Solar System.
Objects larger than about 13
times the size of Jupiter, with
their own thermonuclear
reactions, are known as brown
dwarf stars rather than planets.

Occurrence: A planet orbits a star, or


a stellar remnant. Free-floating
objects in young star clusters
with masses below the limiting
mass for thermonuclear fusion of
deuterium are not "planets", but
are "sub-brown dwarfs" (or
whatever name is most
appropriate).
As a result of these recent
discoveries, the International
Astronomical Union has been
wrestling with the official
definition of a planet. The
current working definition of a
“planet” is based on size and
where the object is found:

Size: A mass small enough that


thermonuclear fusion of
deuterium does not occur. This
makes an upper limit of about 13
times the size of Jupiter. The
lower limit on size should be that
used in our own Solar System.
Objects larger than about 13
times the size of Jupiter, with
their own thermonuclear
reactions, are known as brown
dwarf stars rather than planets.

Occurrence: A planet orbits a star, or


a stellar remnant. Free-floating
objects in young star clusters
with masses below the limiting
mass for thermonuclear fusion of
deuterium are not "planets", but
“Planet” is not as easily defined as once thought. A common definition is „a
large body orbiting a star, formed from the swirling disk of gas and dust left
over from the star‟s genesis.‟

As we learn more about our own Solar System and the existence of planets
orbiting other stars, the definition of “planet” has become less certain. For
example, many astronomers believe Pluto is not really a planet due to its
small size and inclined orbit.