But the really crazy stuff takes place beneath the surface of the swirling clouds, where the high pressure and extraordinary temperatures mean strange things are likely to happen. Jupiter may have liquid helium rain pouring down through a liquid hydrogen ocean.
Further down, this liquid hydrogen turns into a liquid metal, as the pressure increases to the point that electrons are squeezed off the hydrogen atoms.
Is the Solar System Really a Vortex?
Saturn, meanwhile, boasts something genuinely baffling at its north pole: A false-colour image of the vortex at Saturn's north pole Supplied: A rocky world, covered in ice, you'd definitely have somewhere to stand. And one of the most interesting things to see would be the fine snow made of nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide. However, if you timed a visit to coincide with Pluto orbiting close to the Sun, you'd see the ice change directly to a gas a process known as sublimation , creating a thin atmosphere around the dwarf planet.
Pluto has some interesting surface features, including craters, troughs and mountains believed to be formed out of a bedrock of water ice. But you'd need to rug up because Pluto is very cold — the average temperature is minus degrees Celsius. After a frosty stay in the outer solar system, you'll be ready to head back to the comfort of an environment you evolved to survive in: A place called Earth. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC.
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Fringe Islamic group stripped of charity status after illegal land clearing. Connect with ABC News. The barycenter criterion means that a pair of Jupiters would be a double planet. Asteroid Ceres , since it is round, would be considered a planet. Interestingly, Ceres was called a planet when first discovered in , then reclassified. It is just miles in diameter, compared to 1, for Pluto and 7, for Earth. And if astronomers determine that asteroids Pallas, Vesta, and Hygeia are also round, "they will also have to be considered planets," said Owen Gingerich, an historian and astronomer emeritus at Harvard who led the committee.
The IAU proposal suggests but does not require that these be called dwarf planets. Pluto could also be considered a dwarf, which the IAU recommends as an informal label. Boss, along with Stern, was on an IAU committee of astronomers that failed to agree on a definition.
Mercury — a hot place to chill
After a year, the IAU disbanded that committee and formed the new one, which included the author Dava Sobel in an effort to bring new ideas to the process. Boss called their proposal "creative" and "detailed" but said it does not hang together as a cohesive argument. Given all the nuances in the definition, a dozen other objects would be put on an IAU list of "candidate planets" which, upon further study, might bring the tally of planets in our solar system to Stern, the New Horizons mission leader, said there could be "hundreds and maybe a thousand" objects in our solar system that are at least as big as Pluto.
That's fine with him. You discover new things, you adapt to new facts. Brown, the discoverer of the potential 12th planet, said the basic definition is fine, but "the resolution itself is a complete mess. The resolution calls for a new IAU committee that would evaluate other candidate planets. Normally, that's a process that takes place in a scientific journal, Brown said. He called the notion of an IAU gatekeeper "bizarre" and "really a bad idea.
The IAU should make a definition, then it's up to scientists to go about their business" of deciding what objects fit the definition. Binzel defended the approach: Someone has to officially bestow names, etc. It is just the way the system works. A 'no' vote puts us back where we were.
Brown worries, however, that the vast majority of astronomers at the IAU meeting work in other fields, outside planetary science. Rob has been producing internet content since the mids. He served as Managing Editor of LiveScience since its launch in He now oversees news operations for the TechMediaNetwork's growing suite of technology, science and business news sites. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California. The 12 planets under the newly proposed IAU definition. Planet sizes are shown to scale but their orbital distances are not to scale.
Astronomers Sharply Divided on New Planet Definition The tally of planets in our solar system would jump instantly to a dozen under a highly controversial new definition proposed by the International Astronomical Union IAU. Eventually there would be hundreds as more round objects are found beyond Neptune. The asteroid Ceres , which is round, would be recast as a dwarf planet in the new scheme.