Defining the Indefinable - Sarah Brodsky/1/06 Defining the...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Sarah Brodsky Astronomy 10 11/1/06 Defining the Indefinable The planets have always been romanticized bodies. The planets were first thought  to be mighty gods in the sky that control every action on Earth and in the universe. Over  time, the definition of the term “planet” has changed quite significantly, from almighty  gods to simply bodies that orbit the Sun. In fact, the definition of “planet” has changed as  recently as August 24, 2006, where “Members of the International Astronomical Union  (IAU) voted… to define a planet as an object that is in orbit around the sun, is large  enough for its own gravity to pull it into a nearly spherical shape, and has cleared the  neighborhood around its orbit -- in other words, it has no other large bodies crossing its  path” (Source 1).  The definition of “planet” is constantly being disputed and changed because the  objects that are considered planets have so many different characteristics from one  another that they are constantly contradicting definitions of the term “planet” as new  characteristics are being discovered. The objects considered planets are so diverse that  fitting them into one category is nearly impossible. Many planets in Earth’s solar system  tend to be more closely related to non-planet objects then their planet counterparts. These  major discrepancies found in definition after definition of the term “planet” lead most 
Image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
astronomy connoisseurs to ask, what is a planet, and can the term “planet” even be  defined at all?   By looking at the physical qualities of the planets of Earth’s solar system, the  insignificance of the term “planet” becomes more evident. The relationship between  brown dwarfs and gas giants is much greater then the relationship between the gas giants  and the terrestrial planets. Many astronomers have found that “it is impossible and  contrived to put a dividing line between dwarf planets and [gas giant] planets. It's as if we  declared people not people for some arbitrary reason, like 'they tend to live in groups”  (Source 2). This is because the characteristics of both brown dwarfs and gas giants are so  incredibly similar that the only qualities really separating them are their birth, “a brown  dwarfs forms from a collapsing gas cloud, like a star, it maintains a gaseous composition  all the way to the very center. A planet, on the other hand, forms from accreting material  in a disk, and will have a core made of ice and rock” (Source 8). When setting aside the 
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern