Will we discover an 11th planet? What would it be called?
I am curious as to if scientists will ever find the 11th planet? Is it possible for it to be discovered if they take a giant telescope to Mars and look through it? I would like to know if there is really an 11th planet and what it would be called.
The "10th planet" Eris is just one of many small icy, rocky objects that have been discovered beyond Pluto. No need to go to Mars! Even using telescopes on Earth, we are discovering more of these objects each year, so it would not be very surprsing to discover more objects larger than Pluto, which would qualify as planets. So there could be an 11th planet, and a 12th planet, and a 13th, and a 14th and a 15th . . .
But what if we discover ten of these? Or one hundred? Should we call them all planets? Should grade school students have to memorize ALL their names? :)
Some astronomers think that these objects, and Eris and Pluto, should just be called Kuiper Belt Objects or Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), not planets.
What these objects are named depends on whether we decide that they should be planets. TNOs are named for gods and goddesses of creation of many cultures. They have names like Sedna, Quaoar, Varuna, Ixion, Huya, Deucalion, Rhadamanthus, and Orcus. Planets, on the other hand, are named for Roman gods and goddesses.
The people who will make the decision are the members of the International Astronomical Union. They are the ones who decide how to name things in the sky. In August 2006 they decided that Eris and Pluto should not be so-called "classic" planets, but rather be founding members of the new class of "dwarf planets". Following this decision Eris was named (after the Greek goddess of discord). Another TNO, Sedna has also formally joined this class, as has Ceres (formally the largest of the asteroids in the asteroid belt). Quaoar may join this class pending a more accurate measurement of its size.
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