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Planetary Science - Planetary Science The star we call the...

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Planetary Science The star we call the Sun has a number of small objects circling around it. Many other stars in our Galaxy have objects orbiting them too and astronomers have recently discovered over four hundred of these other systems already. The largest members of the Sun's family are called planets, and one of these we call home. That planet, Earth, has many unique characteristics that enable life to exist on it. What are the other planets like? What we call a "planet" has been the subject of much debate recently with the latest definition creating a "dwarf planet" class of which Pluto is a member. A "planet" in our solar system is a celestial body that "(a) orbits the Sun; (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid-body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape; and (c) has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." See the Kuiper Belt section in the next chapter for more on this.
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