Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Cosmic 'cigar' spins at astonishing pace

A recently discovered planetoid on the outskirts of our Solar System is turning so fast that it seems to have been squeezed into the shape of a cigar. And this cigar looks as if it is spinning not around its long axis, but around its middle.

This is such a bizarre situation that some refuse to believe it. "It's a really cool result... if it's true," says Tommy Grav, a sceptical astronomer from the University of Hawaii.


W.M. Bear said...

HOWEVER, (note the "big however") spinning should simply produce an "oblate spheroid" (which is what the Earth and all other rapidly spinning planets are) and NOT a "cigar shape." Think about it. Inertial forces cause a spinning sphere to flatten symmetrically around the axis of rotation so that the diameter at the equator is greater than the diameter along the polar axis. These inertial forces do NOT cause a body to assume a CIGAR shape. (I'm amazed no one at the conference had the temerity to point this out.) The Mother Ship lives!!!

weevee: ottro (Italian for "other"?)

Mac said...

I'd have to agree. You'd expect a "flying saucer" -- not a "mothership."

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