Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Pluto's Moon Gives Up Secrets 11

This Week In Science writes "When Pluto's moon, Charon, occulted a distant star on July 11, 2005 two groups of astronomers were there to witness the fleeting moment. Based on what they saw, the scientists were able to determine that Charon has very little atmosphere, has a radius of 605 km, and is about 1.7 times denser than water. The density calculation implies that Pluto and Charon were once two separate proto-planets that because of a chance encounter are now bound by gravity."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Pluto's Moon Gives Up Secrets

Comments Filter:
  • New Horizons (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hound3000 ( 238628 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:39AM (#14434287) Journal
    Too bad it will be another ten years before New Horizons [jhuapl.edu] gets there to really start telling what Pluto / Charon is all about.
  • Wait a second (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lars T. ( 470328 ) <Lars.TraegerNO@SPAMgooglemail.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:31AM (#14434609) Journal
    From the article:
    The team also found that the density of any atmosphere on the moon must be less than a millionth of that of the Earth. This argues against the theory that Pluto and Charon were formed by the cooling and condensing of the gas and dust known as the solar nebula. Instead, Charon was likely created in a celestial collision between an object and a proto-Pluto.

    "Our observations show that there is no substantial atmosphere on Charon, which is consistent with an impact formation scenario," Gulbis said. Similar theories exist about the formation of the Earth-moon system.

    That's not the same as "the density calculation implies that Pluto and Charon were once two separate proto-planets that because of a chance encounter are now bound by gravity".
  • "... two groups of astronomers were there to witness the fleeting moment..." How long have we been sending astronomers to pluto?
  • Does that really say "occulted"? What the eff? Do they mean "occluded"? Seriously, are the editors all 14 years old?
    • Well, I was wrong to point the finger so hastily!

      Occultation [wikipedia.org]

      Might still be the stupidest word I've encountered in a LONG time!

      • Occultation

        Might still be the stupidest word I've encountered in a LONG time!

        Well, it's a word of latin origins which has been well established in the the language ....

        From Webster ...

        Main Entry: 1occult
        Pronunciation: &-'k&lt, ä-
        Function: transitive verb
        Etymology: Latin occultare, frequentative of occulere
        : to shut off from view or exposure : COVER, ECLIPSE
        - occulter noun

        Turned into a noun, we get

        One entry found for occultation.
        Main Entry: occultation
        Pronunciation: "ä-(")k&l-'tA-sh

        • It's stupid because there already is a word for that meaning, occlude. All this can do is create confusion and obfuscate communication (perhaps the point).

          I get to vote due to the fact that language is plastic, evolving, and not perfect. A horse gets me to where I'm going just fine, why should I bother inventing car? There's always room for improvement, including simplification. Words *do* fall into disuse.

          If it makes you feel any better, I feel that onus is also a stupid word because of its redunda

          • It's stupid because there already is a word for that meaning, occlude. All this can do is create confusion and obfuscate communication (perhaps the point).

            Actually, being a scientific term, it adds specificity.

            They could have used the word eclipse too. But it gets used in specific contexts (usually wrt the sun or the moon and Earth). Both occultations and Eclipses are forms of Syzygy [wikipedia.org] -- a really odd word indeed. Block, hide, cover, obscure are all words which more or less mean the same thing -- except o

          • So let's start burning thesauruses, shall we?

"The chain which can be yanked is not the eternal chain." -- G. Fitch

Working...