Many Very Educated Men Just Screwed Up Nature. Possibly?
January 20, 2016 8:11 AM   Subscribe

New evidence of a Ninth Planet. Astronomer Michael E Brown is more famous as "The man who killed Pluto" thinks their might be nine planets after all.

"My daughter, she's still kind of mad about Pluto being demoted, even though she was barely born at that time," Brown said. "She suggested a few years ago that she'd forgive me if I found a new planet. So I guess I've been working on this for her."

But just to rub salt in the wound he refers to this new super distant planet as "Planet Nine".

Here's the actual paper.
posted by Just this guy, y'know (77 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Neat. Also, "massive perturber" would be a sweet username.
posted by resurrexit at 8:17 AM on January 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


If it exists, I vote for naming it Argos! Huge, and on the opposite end of the solar system's closeness-to-the-sun as Mercury.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:17 AM on January 20, 2016


Oh man, if this turns out to be real we're never going to hear the end of it from those Nibiru/Planet X people.
posted by mayonnaises at 8:18 AM on January 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


If this is real, it should be named Yuggoth.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:19 AM on January 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


No, no, see, they've screwed the whole thing up. Pluto needs to be a planet.

Where are we going?
PLANET TEN!
When?
REAL SOON!

It just doesn't work with Planet Nine.
posted by Naberius at 8:19 AM on January 20, 2016 [18 favorites]


Can we name it Pluto?
posted by mazola at 8:21 AM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think if it's there it should be named Pluto, and pluto can be called something else.

It's giant, it's Icy it's dark and unknowable, naming it after the god of the underworld is perfect.
It would also screw with older text books / make older text books valid again (depending on how much detail they go into), which would be fun.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:22 AM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Huh, that's what I get for showing my working. (Shakes fist at mazola)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:22 AM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


My thoughts exactly. (Shakes fist at self)
posted by mazola at 8:24 AM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


People, people.

Planet Claire.

Obviously.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:28 AM on January 20, 2016 [23 favorites]


Given the abysmal state of science funding these days, I'm surprised someone hasn't sold the naming rights and started calling it Planet Fitness.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:30 AM on January 20, 2016 [23 favorites]


Ed Wood tried to warn us about this.
posted by drezdn at 8:33 AM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


We could name the new planet Inanna. She is that earliest Sumerian poet who asked God why he rained down destruction from the skies. It will help the Nibiru people get over it. Then we could have another planet with a feminine name.
posted by Oyéah at 8:34 AM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


make older text books valid again (depending on how much detail they go into)

Anything beyond "there are nine planets in the solar system" would be inaccurate. This proposed new planet is much, much farther away and significantly larger than the contentious dwarf-planet.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:34 AM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


'Starkiller Base'
posted by mazola at 8:35 AM on January 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


Planet Maybe
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:39 AM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Name it Planet X already.
posted by Hactar at 8:40 AM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Unicron.
posted by drezdn at 8:40 AM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh man, if this turns out to be real we're never going to hear the end of it from those Nibiru/Planet X people.

I was channeling Archangel Michael who is Commander of the Galactic Fleet the other day and he didn't say anything about this! I suspect this Planet Nine malarkey is a plot by the Zeta Reticulans - they've long used the Grey drones to influence the military/scientific complex and block attempts by the Galactic Fleet to contact anyone who does not have crazy eyes and a YouTube channel with under 200 subscribers.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:41 AM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Planet Maybe

Hey we just noticed
These orbits crazy
So do you think there's
A planet, maybe?
posted by curious nu at 8:49 AM on January 20, 2016 [27 favorites]


If Pluto gets unnamed Pluto in favor of Planet X Marks the Spot, rename the former Pluto after its discoverer: Tombaugh.
posted by tilde at 8:54 AM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Faced with the awesome and terrible possibility that the Solar System might contain dozens of planets, the astronomical bosses grew fearful and in their terror resorted to tortured logics to exclude Pluto and similar bodies. I expect more ad-hoc justifications to exclude this one too.

HANG YOUR HEAD IN SHAME NEIL TYSON. PLUTO FOREVER!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:59 AM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Plutwo
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:00 AM on January 20, 2016 [20 favorites]


Planet Brontosaurus.
posted by Foosnark at 9:00 AM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Planet Bob.
posted by Atreides at 9:06 AM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


If Pluto gets unnamed Pluto in favor of Planet X Marks the Spot, rename the former Pluto after its discoverer: Tombaugh.

Name it Clyde instead. That way, we can call the next three dwarf planets Inky, Blinky, and Pinky.
posted by Etrigan at 9:07 AM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


BOWIE
posted by ephemerae at 9:09 AM on January 20, 2016 [24 favorites]


BOWIE

We need to build a laser big enough to etch massive Aladdin Sane makeup into the planet's surface.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:21 AM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


They are calling it "Planet Nine."

Plan-It Nine from Outer Space?
posted by nubs at 9:24 AM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I read Brown's book on why he had to kill Pluto and honestly, his rationale there sounded like a bunch of touchy feely BS that he draped a shirt of SCIENCE on to justify his reasoning. Ultimately it just didn't "feel" right to him that Pluto be a planet, after he and his team discovered all bodies similar in size to Pluto. The "cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit" definition is incredibly vague.

So forgive me (or don't) when I'm skeptical of him saying anything is a planet or not. Yep, this is an emotional issue for me, sue me!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


IDGAF what the classification says, to me pluto is special.

"You can't have it. No you can't have, you can't take that away from me"

PLANET NINE INCH NAILS.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:41 AM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've seen enough Star Wars movies to know that this is no planet.
posted by NoMich at 9:56 AM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


this messes up the sailor moon universe even more.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:16 AM on January 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


They'll fix it in the next reboot. And then edit it out of the American airings.
posted by drezdn at 10:23 AM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


It will help the Nibiru people get over it.

They will always have Bowie.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:31 AM on January 20, 2016


Persephone, obviously, as it is send to the cold depths only to periodically return to the warmth and light.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:32 AM on January 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


If this is real, it should be named Yuggoth.

On one hand, +1 for nerdery. On the other, it would be as silly as keeping Uranus' original denomination, "Planet George".

Not much of an improvement, I know

Since planets that far away have been named after deities not in Western Classical myth like Sedna, Qaoar, Haumea and Makemake, I vote for something Polynesian or Native American, too.
posted by sukeban at 10:37 AM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


...All of them also discovered by Brown. Uh.
posted by sukeban at 10:40 AM on January 20, 2016


The whole need to cling to the non-category of "planet" to describe radically different phenomena is puzzling to me, since I come from biology which has spent most of the last 50 years giving up on one non-category after another.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:51 AM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love this post title.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:00 AM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


We should call Pluto, Heart. That way when civilization completely collapses and the next wave gets something up to take a look, if the heart shape is still in the survivors' lexicon, then they would know we we were close enough to see it, at an earlier time. If the planetery names still persist, even in the mythology we leave behind.

What if this great planet attracts asteroids in its ellipsis, and that is the source of the bombardment Inanna discussed in her poetry? In my next life, Astronomy.
posted by Oyéah at 11:03 AM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jeez, it's getting really confusing what we should or could call such a planet, if it turns out to exist, since we've given a lot of the best names to lowly asteroids, KBOs and TNOs. I'm sort of thinking we should clear the slate and re-name every object in the solar system from scratch with some more orderly and consistent scheme, taking into account type of body (rocky, icy, gassy), size grouping, and inclination / distance of orbit.

That way when civilization completely collapses and the next wave gets something up to take a look, if the heart shape is still in the survivors' lexicon, then they would know we we were close enough to see it, at an earlier time.

Are you Neal Stephenson's sock puppet account?
posted by aught at 11:07 AM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Vecna.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:09 AM on January 20, 2016


Mr. Planet
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:15 AM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Michael E Brown needs to get a parrot named Rupert.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:18 AM on January 20, 2016


Massive perturber? I 'ardly know 'er!
posted by BungaDunga at 12:06 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Mr. Planet
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:15 PM on January 20


Wait, wait, wait. Captain Planet.
posted by Green With You at 12:11 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


BOWIE

WE COULD EVEN HAVE A CRISIS ON INFINITE BOWIES, BOWIE.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:19 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


But would a Planet Bowie fit inside a paper bag?
posted by Etrigan at 12:21 PM on January 20, 2016


I'm just glad that, since we got a closer look at Charon, we now have a new candidate for Sol's own mass relay.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:30 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


All they had to do was set the coordinates to 9,9,9. Then Father Antos would have been happy to confirm Planet X exists.
posted by delfin at 12:43 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I only recently learned what a sock puppet account is. Now, who is Neal Stephenson? I am getting my Big Perturber tattoo, on my forehead, like a demure little headband, with some vines and flowers.

I came in here with someone, paid for another mefite's membership. I have no sockpuppet, but I do have a good mefite friend. Boom.
posted by Oyéah at 12:53 PM on January 20, 2016


Ultimately it just didn't "feel" right to him that Pluto be a planet, after he and his team discovered all bodies similar in size to Pluto.

As I recall, and as this posting from around 2006 indicates, the problem for Brown was the fact that we were on course for having a couple of hundred planets. I personally think that any definition of planet that gives more planets than I can remember the name of is probably not a great one.
posted by howfar at 1:04 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Planet Eris. 9 is 3 to the power of 2. 2 plus 3 is 5. The Law of Fives is never wrong. All hail Discordia.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Phantom Planet
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:12 PM on January 20, 2016


Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

You know this is the true name of the planet. Search your feelings.
posted by petebest at 1:24 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Astronomer Michael E Brown is more famous as "The man who killed Pluto" thinks their might be nine planets after all.

Michael E. Brown : Lucy :: Ninth planet : football
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:04 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


As I recall, and as this posting from around 2006 indicates, the problem for Brown was the fact that we were on course for having a couple of hundred planets. I personally think that any definition of planet that gives more planets than I can remember the name of is probably not a great one.

The discovery of hundreds of planets has been an inevitability for some time now, and we have over 2,000 confirmed cases to wrestle into our theories of what planets are.

And the whole arc of astronomy has been from the local to the cosmic and the nameable to the innumerable.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:12 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


> We have over 2,000 confirmed cases to wrestle into our theories of what planets are.

But not around our own Sun! I don't think anyone is jumping to name 51 Peg c at this point.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:42 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Planet Trump. Yeah, you know he'd do it.
posted by um at 4:15 PM on January 20, 2016


As I recall, and as this posting from around 2006 indicates, the problem for Brown was the fact that we were on course for having a couple of hundred planets.

So what? What possible science problem would that cause?

It sounds like Brown was afraid of our solar system being so planet rich that a person wouldn't be able to name them all. Who gives a flying fuck about something as petty as that?! Standing of the cusp of reimagining our solar system as something ridiculously rich in planets, we did nothing but attempt to keep things small for our selfish concerns.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:35 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


So what? What possible science problem would that cause?

The more planets there are, the more likely names will slip through, and then poor grade school science teachers will not only have to contend with Uranus but also Myanus and several other planets named by internet polls.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:51 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


NOT EXPLORED YET
posted by newdaddy at 4:59 PM on January 20, 2016


have to contend with Uranus but also Myanus and several other planets named by internet polls.

ALL THESE PLANETS ARE YOURS
EXCEPT FOR LOL BUTTS
ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE
posted by nubs at 5:02 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


There is a Futurama joke about Uranus being renamed Urectum. I think we should go with that, as Uranus would be near Urectum.
posted by marienbad at 5:13 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: So what? What possible science problem would that cause?

Putting too many different types of objects in the same category, making that category name less restrictive, thus less useful as a way of specifying sets of properties?

What I mean is, one of the oldest sources of perpetual debate in all the sciences is between "lumpers" (who prefer a small number of large groups) and "splitters" (who prefer a large number of small groups). Since nature itself tends to be both fuzzy and fractal, any classification will have outliers and exceptions and perpetual questions about why X was included by Y was not. It is the debate itself, not any particular position, that is the petty human selfishness. Pluto doesn't care what we call it.

The classic resolution to the debate is a tree of classifications—you can be as broad or as narrow as you choose. That doesn't stop the arguments (people still debate at length over precisely which proto-human species belong in the Homo genus) but it helps give them perspective.

Pluto is still a planet. It's under the specific, narrower group "dwarf planet". This parallels the narrower group "minor planet" for objects like Ceres. It doesn't even stop there: Pluto is a particular type of dwarf planet, a Kuiper belt object. In fact it's a particular type of those, a plutino. Guess what they're named after. But the distinction is important because there are other types at that level, for example the cubewanos. They're named after 1992 QB₁. (Get it?) It's a KBO but not a plutino and it's a planet, but a minor planet, and not a dwarf planet.

It's also a planemo, because the group naming goes the other way: not everything that has the size and composition to be planet-like orbits a star. Sometimes it orbits nothing, "rogue planets"; sometimes it orbits a planet, "moons". But they all need a general name, hence "planemos". It would be a shame to exclude Ganymede from discussions of its planet-ish geological properties just because it orbits Jupiter.

I'm with CBrachyrhynchos: reclassifications happen all the time in science, that's part of how you can tell the difference between it and human romanticism, since nature abhors a rigid taxonomy. We must treat them as lightly as the underlying reality demands.
posted by traveler_ at 5:18 PM on January 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Pluto is still a planet. It's under the specific, narrower group "dwarf planet".

Sadly, this is not the "official" situation.
"Pluto is not a planet," [Mike] Brown said. "There are finally, officially, eight planets in the solar system."
...
Dwarf planets are not planets under the definition, however.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:46 PM on January 20, 2016


Do people who get emotional about Pluto have such strong opinions about all of astronomy? Are you just big fans of the god it was named after? I really don't get it.

Having more specific classifications makes sense to me, rather than lumping everything under "planet".
posted by thefoxgod at 6:14 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet – a "massive perturber."

A shy and isolated "massive perturber" . . .

Onan?
posted by jamjam at 6:20 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


There's absolutely no reason why new planets (or whatever) must continue be named in the same way as classical planets. That precedent has already been broken for asteroids, stars, comets, and galaxies. So the argument that convenience in naming should be an important consideration for the taxonomy strikes me as a fallacy.

One of the joys of living in the times that we do is that every planetary mission, every exosolar discovery has challenged our theories about how planets and solar systems work. New Horizons wasn't an exception, and it's worth considering whether Pluto's tentative volcano and convection-driven features put it in the same clade (albeit a distant branch) as Venus, Earth, Mars, Io, Europa, and Enceladus.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:29 PM on January 20, 2016


I dub thee Planet Rock with twin moons Afrika and Bambatta.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I vote we award the naming rights to whichever country is successfully able to maroon Donald Trump and Ted Cruz on it's surface.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 7:50 PM on January 20, 2016


I'm ok with lithobraking, personally.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:38 PM on January 20, 2016


Hairy Lobster: Planet Eris. 9 is 3 to the power of 2. 2 plus 3 is 5. The Law of Fives is never wrong. All hail Discordia.

I have good news for you.
posted by sukeban at 11:20 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm ok with lithobraking, personally.

Basically the core of Jeb!'s campaign, as I understand it.
posted by curious nu at 8:25 AM on January 21, 2016


I vote we award the naming rights to whichever country is successfully able to maroon Donald Trump and Ted Cruz on it's surface.

Just tell them the next debate is there; anyone left on Earth will be at the kiddy table debate.
posted by nubs at 9:58 AM on January 21, 2016


Searching Google images for "massive perturber" led me to a clip of young David Bowie.
posted by homunculus at 7:03 PM on January 21, 2016


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