Sunday, September 11, 2005

Astronomers discover 2 more oddball objects

Although the peculiar orbits of all three could shed fresh light on the earliest epochs of the solar system's formation, the astronomers now concede that maybe it's best not to think of them as planets at all.


"Santa is crazy, and it's my favorite -- by far the weirdest of the three," Brown said. It is significantly larger than Pluto, it's shaped like a huge cigar, and it rotates end-over-end every four hours; it also has a single tiny moon about 60 miles in diameter orbiting around it.

(Via The Anomalist.)

Good lord -- they've found the mothership!


W.M. Bear said...

Isn't there supposed to be a maximum diameter for a body (somewhere around 500 miles or so) where anything larger is forced into a more-or-less spherical shape by its own gravity? So if we discover a body "significantly larger than Pluto" (i.e., much larger than 500 mi. diam.) that's also cigar-shaped, couldn't its very shape be construed as evidence of artificiality...? Could we be looking at a mythical "generation ship? The argument against this is the end-over-end rotation. A generation ship -- one that could be inhabited for hundreds or even thousands of years while it mooched along between the stars at very sub-light speeds -- would necessarily rotate around its long axis, the artificial gravity thus produced being the whole reason for the cigar shape in the first place.

Mac said...

I was only *sorta* joking when I called it a "mothership." I think this calls for a close look.

Weevee: skonxk (German for "skunk"?)

W.M. Bear said...

But (aha!) possibly the (abandoned?) "Mother Ship" got boinged at some point by a large KBO. If the object struck near one of the ends of the "cigar," this might cause it to start tumbling end over end despite the gyroscopic effect of its original long-axis spin.

weevee: lvudvx

"Lord love a duck!"

Anonymous said...

Perhaps an object close to this limit, early in its life when it is a bit more molten gets smacked. This strike causes it to tumble end over end thus streching into a cigar or dumbell shape.

Would be nice if it could be captured and brought in system. A cigar shaped rock longer than 500 miles... hell that bigger than Californias central valley. City sized caverns could be bored deep inside and engines strapped to the outside. Viola! Generation ship. No worrying about the hull breaking down, pretty good impact and radiation protection. Now if we could just build a space elevator go out there and grab the sucker.

Mac said...

The image of a giant derelict spacecraft tumbling end over end reminds me of the dust-smothered Discovery craft as seen in "2010." That was a memorable scene.

If anyone reading hasn't read the book ... what the hell are you waiting for??? ;-)

W.M. Bear said...

Prediction: If there's the LEAST suspicion that it might really BE artificial, we'll start hearing all kinds of official pronouncements about the cigar shape being premature, the data aren't yet sufficient to indicate, etc., etc. etc.

Mac said...


In defense of the inevitable skeptics, there really *isn't* that much compelling evidence, aside from the object's weird shape.

My problem with mainstream skepticism is the way it demonizes honest speculation and chastises those who recognize its usefulness as "believers."

Anonymous said...

there should be no stigma with just asking questions.

im reminded of the last russian photo from the phobos probe...a reflective cylinder captured changing orbit just before the probe was lost...(that is if the old nimoy in seach of show is to be believed...and who doesnt believe spock?)

W.M. Bear said...

Mac -- I would add the programmatic quality of orthodox skepticism too. It's like it's an automatic, knee-jerk reaction, the object of which is to cut off any and all debate on the subject. (Kind of like the Bush administration's approach to everything, come to think of it!) In point of fact, I consider myself actually pretty skeptical when it comes to planetary SETI but I do love the "head trips" of speculation ala yourself, Hoagland, et al.

Generic Viagra Online said...

Yeah it's just like the game for pc that I'm gonna buy as soon it will be released the bizarre alice madness return haha just like an evil santa haha