The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    I get the impression that even if the Moon wasn't there, the Earth is still big enough to qualify as dominating its zone, and the clearing-out process would still have taken place.

    So, the Earth on its own would have qualified as a planet - it doesn't need the Moon to do its job.
    In this orbit. In Pluto's orbit, the Earth wouldn't be massive enough to have cleared the orbit. That's a problem with the definition of "planet", when where something orbits determines whether it's a planet or a minor planet. Pluto is smaller than the moon, and it pretty clearly ought to be a minor planet. However, the definition they've used to make that happen is very silly, there have to be thousands of possible definitions which are less silly, as well as millions which are sillier.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    Pluto is smaller than the moon, and it pretty clearly ought to be a minor planet.
    I agree. They should give it a name like "minor planet." Maybe "elf planet?"
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    In this orbit. In Pluto's orbit, the Earth wouldn't be massive enough to have cleared the orbit. That's a problem with the definition of "planet", when where something orbits determines whether it's a planet or a minor planet. Pluto is smaller than the moon, and it pretty clearly ought to be a minor planet. However, the definition they've used to make that happen is very silly
    "a Belt full of Earth-sized objects is still a Belt, and not a Zone With A Planet"

    doesn't sound especially silly to me.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    "a Belt full of Earth-sized objects is still a Belt, and not a Zone With A Planet"

    doesn't sound especially silly to me.
    It would start like that, but if they were at the Earth's current radius they would fairly rapidly go berserk and fight until only one remained! The sole 'survivor' would be crowned a planet. Chances are it would have merged once or twice in that time though, so calling it a survivor is maybe a misnomer.

    The chances of even one of them ending up in a vaguely circular orbit are pretty slim without assistance, but something like Jupiter could help (and probably pick up a couple of moons for it's trouble).

    The taxonomy of such a system would be interesting, no matter what system you used.

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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    In this orbit. In Pluto's orbit, the Earth wouldn't be massive enough to have cleared the orbit.
    And if Earth sat in orbit around Jupiter it would be a moon.

    In fact, Pluto is sort of a pseuso-moon. It resides in orbital resonance with Neptune. For every tree laps around the sun Neptune runs, Pluto does two. Its orbit is dependent upon not just the sun, but a planet as well.

    Is a description based on size, shape and orbit definitely the best answer to the question what is and isn't a planet? Maybe not. But if we are applying those standards Pluto is not in the club.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    And if Earth sat in orbit around Jupiter it would be a moon.

    In fact, Pluto is sort of a pseuso-moon. It resides in orbital resonance with Neptune. For every tree laps around the sun Neptune runs, Pluto does two. Its orbit is dependent upon not just the sun, but a planet as well.

    Is a description based on size, shape and orbit definitely the best answer to the question what is and isn't a planet? Maybe not. But if we are applying those standards Pluto is not in the club.
    If we merged Jupiter's moons we'd have something more or less Earthlike. It might even be livable, but that wouldn't make it Earth. I'm not arguing that Pluto oiught to be a planet anymore. I am now arguing that the definition used to make Pluto a minor planet is very silly. Moons are very variable, Phobos and Demios are tiny, they'd possibly not have been found yet if they weren't orbiting Mars very closely.

    It has been established that there's nothing of Saturn's mass or bigger (black holes excepted) in the Oort because Saturn radiates in IR and they've looked and not found anything of that sort. Which is sort of a pity from some points of view, but the universe is what it is and we have to live with the universe as it is.

    Human definitions don't make the slightest difference to what the universe is, so, in my view, having a very silly definition of minor planets is a mistake that ought to be rectified sooner rather than later, before we make any decisions based on definitions which are acknowledged to be arbitrary and are also particularly silly, because the chances of that doing us harm are non-trivial.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    Human definitions don't make the slightest difference to what the universe is, so, in my view, having a very silly definition of minor planets is a mistake that ought to be rectified sooner rather than later, before we make any decisions based on definitions which are acknowledged to be arbitrary and are also particularly silly, because the chances of that doing us harm are non-trivial.
    Okay, so what's your proposed definitions of "planet" and "miner dwarf minor planet"?
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    Okay, so what's your proposed definitions of "planet" and "miner dwarf minor planet"?
    I don't at this point have one. I don't believe I need to have an alternative ready to go to be able to say this definition is silly. The idea of defining planets as being from 0.25 toi 4.0 of Earth''s surfacxe gravity at their surfaces seems initially plausible to me (I think I might prefer 0.33 to 3, but that seems to me to be essentially the same idea), but it may be that someone can come up with a reason why that's not suitable, though it seems to me at this point that it would be better than the "cleared it's orbit" nonsense in most cases.
    Last edited by halfeye; 2019-11-04 at 03:20 PM.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    I think that there are two problems with accepting Pluto's removal from the planet list.

    The first one is that we tend to treat planets as people, starting from giving them names of characters from stories.

    The second one is the category of planet. It was originally a fairly simple definition: all celestial bodies that weren't fixed stars and followed their own road in the sky. As a result, it comprised the Sun and the Moon. Nowadays, however, it is can be described as "the most important and famous bodies in the Solar system, except the moon (which is excluded for orbiting a planet) and the sun (which the planets orbit)".

    So a change of definition feels like the demotion of a character you like. There also is some cognitive dissonance with a famous celestial body that orbits the sun now not being a planet, in spite of how famous it is.


    There probably also is another factor, that is known in literature as the love for the vulgata (=the version of a text that is best known among people). Essentially, when people read something and feel that it is meaningful for them, they really care about it. The problem is that texts have different editions. Often this vulgata edition is superseded by a new, more accurate version. But people who like the vulgata version will hold on to it, because they feel that it's more beautiful, and because they already know parts of it by heart, and it resonates with their past experiences. I guess that it also works with lists of planets.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Wonder if they'll eventually get around to saying throwing in gravity-at-surface... say, declare that you need to have hydrostatic equilibrium, not orbit a non-star, and have at least .25g surface gravity.

    That would let you include Mercury and a trans-Neptunian rocky planet the size of Earth, but exclude Pluto and other dwarf planets (which then become anything big enough to have hydrostatic equilibrium, but small enough to not breach the .25g threshhold).
    The more I think about it, the more I like this definition. It avoids anything unclear like "cleared its orbit", and you pretty much have to say "Is it round? Does it have enough gravity? Is it orbiting something else?"
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    I get the impression that even if the Moon wasn't there, the Earth is still big enough to qualify as dominating its zone, and the clearing-out process would still have taken place.

    So, the Earth on its own would have qualified as a planet - it doesn't need the Moon to do its job.
    The Earth on its own would, where it is now. So would our Moon, though. So it's odd. But differentiating moons from planets is, in practice, fairly simple. It's just "what does it primarily orbit". It's simple enough to be easily used, and it's fairly intuitive, but the results are clear. So even if the Earth's moon *could* be classified as a planet, people are unlikely to strongly care.

    If the planetary definition were similarly clear, I think there'd be less controversy. Though Pluto does still have the historical bits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    In contrast, something else seems to be 'herding' things out there, throwing them into weird orbits. An object that is doing that does belong on our map, which is why we refer to it as Planet 9, even though we haven't actually found it. It has recently been suggested that it might be a black hole, and then we run into the question of whether that would count as a planet, as it seems to fit the definition!
    Probably not a thing. Not really any evidence for it, and there are a lot of other explanations for the Kuiper Cliff.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    Probably not a thing. Not really any evidence for it, and there are a lot of other explanations for the Kuiper Cliff.
    Not any direct evidence of Planet 9, you mean. Plenty of circumstantial evidence, though.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post

    Probably not a thing. Not really any evidence for it, and there are a lot of other explanations for the Kuiper Cliff.
    Whether it exists or not was not my point. The point is that if these funny orbits are due to a massive object orbiting far out then that object qualifies as gravitationally dominant. It would certainly be spherical, which would make it a planet; if it exists. In contrast, there is no large scale structure to the Kuiper belt due to the gravity of Pluto, which is why it is not a planet. It's gravity does not shape it's region the way a true planet's does.

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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    By the way, if we have dwarf, giant and the intermediate orc planets, does that make smaller asteroids and comets pixie planets?

    At this point I'm almost inclined to start labeling them by mass. 1 Earth mass to 1000 Earth masses is a macro planet, the sun is s megaplanet, everything down to Pluto and Eris is a mesoplanet, and Ceres is a large microplanet*. Mount Everest, if my calculation and google-fu hold up, would on its own be a nanoplanet.



    * I know, there are technically three zeroes too few between my mega and my micro. There need to be either milliplanets or kiloplanets in between there somewhere. But those terms sound too silly. I guess miniplanet could work...
    Last edited by Lvl 2 Expert; 2019-11-05 at 03:35 AM.

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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    By the way, if we have dwarf, giant and the intermediate orc planets, does that make smaller asteroids and comets pixie planets?

    At this point I'm almost inclined to start labeling them by mass. 1 Earth mass to 1000 Earth masses is a macro planet, the sun is s megaplanet, everything down to Pluto and Eris is a mesoplanet, and Ceres is a large microplanet*. Mount Everest, if my calculation and google-fu hold up, would on its own be a nanoplanet.



    * I know, there are technically three zeroes too few between my mega and my micro. There need to be either milliplanets or kiloplanets in between there somewhere. But those terms sound too silly. I guess miniplanet could work...
    Mass doesn't differentiate black holes. They can be any mass more or less, but their surface gravity is always immense.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    A few points for consideration:

    1: The current definition of "brown dwarf" (as distinct from "large planet") is that a brown dwarf is large enough to sustain deuterium fusion (but not H-1 fusion). By this standard, Jupiter is 1/13 the size it would need to be, to be considered a brown dwarf. But that's not the only definition that has been proposed for the brown dwarf-planet cutoff. Another is what happens to the radius when you add more mass. For a small planet like Earth or even Saturn, if you add more mass, the radius increases. But for a large enough object, when you add more mass, the radius actually decreases, due to the increased gravity compressing the gas more. And Jupiter is very close to, and IIRC slightly above, that threshold (in other words, Jupiter has as large a radius as it's possible for a planet to have).

    2: Some folks say that Luna should not be considered a planet, because it primarily orbits Earth, not the Sun. But the gravitational force of the Sun on Luna is actually greater than the gravitational force of Earth on Luna. Or equivalently, the path of the Moon is always concave towards the Sun. One could therefore argue that Luna does orbit the Sun, just in an orbit that is highly perturbed by the Earth.

    3: Some folks also say that Luna should not be considered a planet, because its rotation is tidally locked to Earth's. But so is Venus's, at least in a resonant way: Whenever Earth and Venus have our closest approach, Venus always shows the same face to us. And I don't think anyone advocates for Venus to not be considered a planet.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    Luna
    It took me about ten seconds to figure out what you were talking about.

    Anyway, the primary reason the Moon shouldn't be considered a planet is that it's a moon. If it wasn't, we'd have to rename the darn thing.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    But for a large enough object, when you add more mass, the radius actually decreases, due to the increased gravity compressing the gas more. And Jupiter is very close to, and IIRC slightly above, that threshold (in other words, Jupiter has as large a radius as it's possible for a planet to have).
    Actually there are bigger planets:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...est_exoplanets

    mostly "Hot Jupiters".


    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    2: Some folks say that Luna should not be considered a planet, because it primarily orbits Earth, not the Sun. But the gravitational force of the Sun on Luna is actually greater than the gravitational force of Earth on Luna. Or equivalently, the path of the Moon is always concave towards the Sun. One could therefore argue that Luna does orbit the Sun, just in an orbit that is highly perturbed by the Earth.
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    Longer answer:

    The gravitational force exerted by the Sun on the Moon is more twice that exerted by the Earth on the Moon. So why do we say the Moon orbits the Earth? This has two answers. One is that "orbit" is not a mutually exclusive term. Just because Moon orbits the Earth (and it does) does not mean that it doesn't also orbit the Sun (or the Milky Way, for that matter). It does.

    The other answer is that gravitational force as-is is not a good metric. The gravitational force from the Sun and Earth are equal at a distance of about 260000 km from the Earth. The short-term and long-term behaviors of an object orbiting the Earth at 270000 km are essentially the same as those of an object orbiting the Earth at 250000 km. That 260000 km where the gravitational forces from the Sun and Earth are equal in magnitude is effectively meaningless.

    A better metric is the distance at which an orbit remain stable for a long, long, long time. In the two body problem, orbits at any distance are stable so long as the total mechanical energy is negative. This is no longer the case in the multi-body problem. The Hill sphere is a somewhat reasonable metric in the three body problem.

    The Hill sphere is an approximation of a much more complex shape, and this complex shape doesn't capture long-term dynamics. An object that is orbiting circularly at (for example) 2/3 of the Hill sphere radius won't remain in a circular orbit for long. Its orbit will instead become rather convoluted, sometimes dipping as close to 1/3 of the Hill sphere radius from the planet, other times moving slightly outside the Hill sphere. The object escapes the gravitational clutches of the planet if one of those excursions beyond the Hill sphere occurs near the L1 or L2 Lagrange point.

    In the N-body problem (for example, the Sun plus the Earth plus Venus, Jupiter, and all of the other planets), the Hill sphere remains a reasonably good metric, but it needs to be scaled down a bit. For an object in a prograde orbit such as the Moon, the object's orbit remains stable for a very long period of time so long as the orbital radius is less than 1/2 (and maybe 1/3) of the Hill sphere radius.

    The Moon's orbit about the Earth is currently about 1/4 of the Earth's Hill sphere radius. That's well within even the most conservative bound. The Moon has been orbiting the Earth for 4.5 billion years, and will continue to do so for a few more billions of years into the future.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2019-11-05 at 01:14 PM.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    3: Some folks also say that Luna should not be considered a planet, because its rotation is tidally locked to Earth's. But so is Venus's, at least in a resonant way: Whenever Earth and Venus have our closest approach, Venus always shows the same face to us. And I don't think anyone advocates for Venus to not be considered a planet.
    I believe Venus also is in fairly decent orbital resonance with the Earth.

    Which also mirrors the Neptune/Pluto situation.

    A number of the planets are all odd ducks in some way. It does seem odd to say that Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury are all the same thing, but Luna and Pluto are not.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Why do English speakers sometimes switch to Latin names when talking about the sun, moon and Earth at seemingly random?

    I am legitimately confused here.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    Why do English speakers sometimes switch to Latin names when talking about the sun, moon and Earth at seemingly random?

    I am legitimately confused here.
    We don't have a language.

    We have six different kinds of corvids, wrapped hole-riddled in a sheet that says "Grammar".
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    Why do English speakers sometimes switch to Latin names when talking about the sun, moon and Earth at seemingly random?

    I am legitimately confused here.
    They also randomly switch to Greek, at times.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    Why do English speakers sometimes switch to Latin names when talking about the sun, moon and Earth at seemingly random?

    I am legitimately confused here.
    Throwing together a theory purely from personal experience, the pattern initially looks like this:

    • A "moon" is a celestial body that orbits a planet, because the Moon is a celestial body that orbits a planet; and at some point different celestial bodies that orbit planets were a concept people wanted to talk about, and recycling the proper noun was easier than burgling inventing a new improper noun.
    • At some point thereafter, (other) people wanted to more clearly distinguish "the moon" from "the Moon".
    • English has a tradition of not translating proper nouns from other languages.
    • Latin is unduly traditionally popular in English, for some reason.
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasdoif View Post
    • Latin is unduly traditionally popular in English, for some reason.
    Quick and easy way to make what you're talking about sound science-y, what with a lot of scientific naming schemes either directly using, or at least trying to mimic, Latin. So pattern-matching is my guess.
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    What's the word for 'fear of being eaten by a mounted bear in half-plate' again? Because that's the one I have.

  25. - Top - End - #145
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Most of us don't speak Latin or Greek, so common use definitions don't get mixed up. Calling all suns Sols and ours the Sun would probably have been smarter, but darn it they are doctors not linguarians!
    Last edited by Tvtyrant; 2019-11-05 at 08:50 PM.

  26. - Top - End - #146
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    A dwarf planet is still a planet right?

  27. - Top - End - #147
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    I don't at this point have one. I don't believe I need to have an alternative ready to go to be able to say this definition is silly. The idea of defining planets as being from 0.25 toi 4.0 of Earth''s surfacxe gravity at their surfaces seems initially plausible to me (I think I might prefer 0.33 to 3, but that seems to me to be essentially the same idea), but it may be that someone can come up with a reason why that's not suitable, though it seems to me at this point that it would be better than the "cleared it's orbit" nonsense in most cases.
    How do you measure "surface" gravity for the gas giants, that don't really have a "surface", though?


    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    Why do English speakers sometimes switch to Latin names when talking about the sun, moon and Earth at seemingly random?

    I am legitimately confused here.
    Because we have no good way to distinguish between "a sun, like, in general, any of them" and "the particular sun that is in our solar system" (because for most of English-language history, that wasn't really a distinction that needed making), so the two conventions that have emerged are to capitalize Sun ("many solar systems have suns, and our sun is called The Sun") and to instead call ours Sol ("many solar systems have suns, and our sun is called Sol") in situations where it might be at all ambiguous which meaning you're using.

    Admittedly, the whole Earth versus Terra thing makes somewhat less sense with this explanation since we have a perfectly good generic word for planet. To be fair, I really only hear that in the context of SF fans, so the actual answer may be "it sounds cooler" or "it scans better" unless there's some distinction someone is trying to make that I haven't noticed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    We don't have a language.

    We have six different kinds of corvids, wrapped hole-riddled in a sheet that says "Grammar".
    Well, ok, also that.

  28. - Top - End - #148
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Algeh View Post
    How do you measure "surface" gravity for the gas giants, that don't really have a "surface", though?
    Sure they do, once the gas is compressed enough.
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  29. - Top - End - #149
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Sure they do, once the gas is compressed enough.
    Apparently not. Admittedly, this is more "piece of trivia I read somewhere that I'm poking around Wikipedia for more information about" than it is "thing I know enough about to talk about sensibly".

    ETA:

    I think the main source of "stuff I know about Jupiter and it having or not having a surface" is What If: Interplanetary Cessna, which states:

    Jupiter: Our Cessna cant fly on Jupiter; the gravity is just too strong. The power needed to maintain level flight is three times greater than that on Earth. Starting from a friendly sea-level pressure, wed accelerate through the tumbling winds into a 275 m/s (600 mph) downward glide deeper and deeper through the layers of ammonia ice and water ice until we and the aircraft were crushed. There's no surface to hit; Jupiter transitions smoothly from gas to solid as you sink deeper and deeper.
    I have no idea what either of those links mean for the idea of surface gravity's utility for defining a planet, though.
    Last edited by Algeh; 2019-11-05 at 10:50 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #150
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    Default Re: Pluto Isn't Even A Planet?! What?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Algeh View Post
    Apparently not. Admittedly, this is more "piece of trivia I read somewhere that I'm poking around Wikipedia for more information about" than it is "thing I know enough about to talk about sensibly".

    ETA:

    I think the main source of "stuff I know about Jupiter and it having or not having a surface" is What If: Interplanetary Cessna, which states:



    I have no idea what either of those links mean for the idea of surface gravity's utility for defining a planet, though.
    Quick and dirty google for "jupiter surface gravity":

    Jupiter's surface gravity (which is defined as the force of gravity at its cloud tops), is 24.79 m/s, or 2.528 g
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