lecture_tan17 - Key Concepts: Lecture 17: Outer Solar...

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Key Concepts: Lecture 17: Outer Solar System; Impacts; Formation Pluto Comets and the Kuiper Belt Kuiper Belt Objects and Dwarf Planets The Oort Cloud Asteroids Impacts Pluto • Discovered 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh • Orbit – higher inclination to the ecliptic than any planet – most elliptical orbit – orbit crosses with the orbit of Neptune – Orbital period = 248.6 years – very tilted axis of rotation like Uranus Feb 18, 1930 January 29, 1930 Pluto Global Properties – Diameter - 2300 km – Low density - 2000 kg/m 3 Has 1 satellite - Charon – Diameter - 1200 km – Low density - 1200 kg/m 3 Light and dark areas – Not clear what causes them. Pluto is very hard to study because of its great distance: like seeing a soccer ball in Key West from Gainesville
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Origin of Pluto • Different from Jovian planets – Not a gas giant (too dense). Probably icy – Very elliptical and inclined orbit • Origin – A true planet? • Why such an odd orbit? – Escaped moon of Neptune? • Properties like a Jovian moon • BUT could not escape with satellite – Therefore, probably related to Kuiper Belt Objects (see below), that formed independently in the outer solar system. Comets • Comets have been observed and recorded in the histories of all ancient civilizations What is the Kuiper Belt? Inferred from properties of some (short period) comets. Comets Comet Hyakutake Comet Hale-Bopp Comet Halley Comet West Comets are named after their discoverers Anatomy • Head Nucleus – 1-10 km in diameter Coma – ~ 100,000 km in diameter Tail – ~ 100 million km long – always points away from the Sun
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Composition • Nucleus - dirty snowball – solid – ices of H 2 O, CO 2 , NH 3 CH 4 – dust • Coma – cloud of gas – mostly H 2 O, CO 2 , CO • Tail Evolution of Comets • As comet approaches Sun: – solar radiation vaporizes icy nucleus
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lecture_tan17 - Key Concepts: Lecture 17: Outer Solar...

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