December 14, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Planet Out of Bounds

There’s a small planetary object where it shouldn’t be.  New Scientist reported the discovery of a Kuiper Belt object (KBO) with a high inclination of 47° and a nearly circular orbit.  Astronomers can’t figure out how it got there.  It’s too far out to have been flung by Neptune into such a strange orbit.  They have nicknamed it Buffy, the “theory slayer.”

Theories are fun, till data get in the way.  One planetary science professor years ago was heard to say that astronomers usually get stuck at some point in their models of solar system formation, and have to invoke some kind of miracle to continue on and wind up with the real worlds.

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Categories: Solar System

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