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Tags astronomy , New Horizons , pluto

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Old 21st July 2015, 12:07 PM   #361
Dinwar
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True, but we aren't in the Ort Cloud either.
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Old 21st July 2015, 12:25 PM   #362
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The question I'd have for a recent collision is how likely that makes the current configuration; in particular, how circular is Charon's orbit (or rather, the mutual orbit) as well as how long it would take for the two to become tidally locked after such a collision.

In any event, as the data comes in from NH we may get better clues.
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Old 21st July 2015, 12:55 PM   #363
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Originally Posted by grmcdorman View Post
The question I'd have for a recent collision is how likely that makes the current configuration; in particular, how circular is Charon's orbit (or rather, the mutual orbit) as well as how long it would take for the two to become tidally locked after such a collision.
Good point. Does anyone know?

On another matter, surely the relative recency of the end-Cretaceous impact, which involved a body a mere few miles in diameter, tells us nothing about the probability of a recent much larger impact, splitting a dwarf planet apart to produce Charon, which must have involved a vastly larger impactor.
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Old 21st July 2015, 12:58 PM   #364
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Good point. Does anyone know?

On another matter, surely the relative recency of the end-Cretaceous impact, which involved a body a mere few miles in diameter, tells us nothing about the probability of a recent much larger impact, splitting a dwarf planet apart to produce Charon, which must have involved a vastly larger impactor.
It doesn't directly, but it does show that fairly large impacts are not outside the realm of possible. We're dealing with a geophysicist as well--which means that the argument has special significance (it references a series of issues raised during the 1990s in geology).
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Old 21st July 2015, 01:02 PM   #365
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Good point. Does anyone know?
Humm... well the earth-moon system was created 4.5 gya, and the Earth won't be tidally-locked with the moon for another couple billion years1. Earth is bigger relative to the moon than Pluto to Charon, of course.



1: By that time the sun may have engulfed us anyway.
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Old 21st July 2015, 02:04 PM   #366
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Originally Posted by grmcdorman View Post
The question I'd have for a recent collision is how likely that makes the current configuration; in particular, how circular is Charon's orbit (or rather, the mutual orbit) as well as how long it would take for the two to become tidally locked after such a collision.
It could have happened immediately?
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Old 21st July 2015, 03:35 PM   #367
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From today:

New Horizons 'Captures' Two of Pluto's Smaller Moons
New Horizons Finds Second Mountain Range in Pluto’s ‘Heart’
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Old 21st July 2015, 04:03 PM   #368
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla Sama
Originally Posted by grmcdorman View Post
The question I'd have for a recent collision is how likely that makes the current configuration; in particular, how circular is Charon's orbit (or rather, the mutual orbit) as well as how long it would take for the two to become tidally locked after such a collision.
It could have happened immediately?
While I am by no means an expert, I don't think so. All of the angular momentum of the bodies needs to be dissipated; especially in a glancing collision I'd think the collision would add angular momentum to the individual bodies, not remove it.

As I mentioned, the other question is how circular the orbit is; the more circular the orbit the more likely that the collision is not recent. In particular, I'd expect a young pair to have a rather eccentric orbit, as the original path intersected the two. Given that Charon's listed orbital eccentricity is a mere 0.0022 (see http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/...&System=Metric), I - again, as a non-expert - would take this as an indication that the collision is not recent. For comparison, the eccentricity of Venus - which is said to have a nearly circular orbit - is about 3 times higher, at 0.0067.

According to Wiki, the current theoryWP for the formation of Charon is a collision 4.5 billion years ago.

Mind you, if you're a Velikovskyian, the low eccentricity doesn't mean anything.
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Old 21st July 2015, 04:05 PM   #369
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Originally Posted by Corsair 115 View Post
Cool. It's especially interesting to see the moons become worlds in their own right, when prior to this they were just single pixels in images.
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Old 22nd July 2015, 08:45 AM   #370
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Originally Posted by grmcdorman View Post
The question I'd have for a recent collision is how likely that makes the current configuration; in particular, how circular is Charon's orbit (or rather, the mutual orbit) as well as how long it would take for the two to become tidally locked after such a collision.
According to this article, once Charon has coalesced from the collision debris, it would have take for Charon only 50 years (no, not a typo) to become tide-locked, and several million years for Pluto to become also tide-locked.

An eyeblink on the scale of Solar System.
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Old 22nd July 2015, 09:42 AM   #371
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Interesting; apparently the relatively close masses of the two bodies speeds up the process. I wonder if the same applies to the orbit.
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Old 22nd July 2015, 01:27 PM   #372
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A small derail:

A new crew is on it's way to the space station.

http://www.space.com/17933-nasa-tele...-space-tv.html
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Old 23rd July 2015, 05:34 AM   #373
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I guess this eliminates the idea of "recent" Charon impact:

http://space.io9.com/newly-discovere...ose-1719669805

Some of Pluto's terrain appears to be billions of years old.
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Old 23rd July 2015, 02:54 PM   #374
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Old 23rd July 2015, 05:04 PM   #375
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Originally Posted by Mark6 View Post
According to this article, once Charon has coalesced from the collision debris, it would have take for Charon only 50 years (no, not a typo) to become tide-locked, and several million years for Pluto to become also tide-locked.

An eyeblink on the scale of Solar System.
So it could have possibly happened when they were still molten--and certainly well within the 100 ma timeframe we're working with.

Originally Posted by Mark6
Some of Pluto's terrain appears to be billions of years old.
It's evidence against it, but not proof. It may not have been completely melted--chunks of it may have been, but other chunks may have been blasted off before they could have melted.

Though this does rather more strongly support the notion of the white stuff coming after the crators formed (you can see it infilling the craters, which pretty much proves it). You can even see it filling different craters to different degrees.

Could the planet have been hit by a small comet? Or a series thereof? Think a snowball--Suzie's head retains a bit of the snow even if the snowball is completely destroyed or glances off (Calvin and Hobbs references, if anyone has to ask).
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Old 23rd July 2015, 05:15 PM   #376
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
It's evidence against it, but not proof. It may not have been completely melted--chunks of it may have been, but other chunks may have been blasted off before they could have melted.
I find that most improbable. A very large moon is created by the disruption of a dwarf planet; but the impact leaves some mountains on that body (composed of water ice!) looking perfectly normal and undisturbed.
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Old 23rd July 2015, 05:22 PM   #377
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
I find that most improbable. A very large moon is created by the disruption of a dwarf planet; but the impact leaves some mountains on that body (composed of water ice!) looking perfectly normal and undisturbed.
What I'm thinking is this: Something (possibly the moon) smashes into the planet. Bits of both are blown into space--and some of them are pretty large, because the material is pretty weak (it's ice). While the stuff condenses into the Pluto/moon system, some of the chunks fall back into the system and are large enough to survive the impact.

It would explain the mountain in a moat: a chunk of material hit th planet and stuck. It may explain the dischordant facets of the planet as well.

Unlikely? Sure. But not impossible. Planets don't blow up uniformely, and if there were fractures (if Pluto had been softened up previously by collisions with things orbiting the impactor, perhaps?) they could easily be re-activated, lessing the amount of stress necessary to toss the chunk into space wholesale.
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Old 23rd July 2015, 10:06 PM   #378
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
What I'm thinking is this: Something (possibly the moon) smashes into the planet. Bits of both are blown into space--and some of them are pretty large, because the material is pretty weak (it's ice). While the stuff condenses into the Pluto/moon system, some of the chunks fall back into the system and are large enough to survive the impact.

It would explain the mountain in a moat: a chunk of material hit th planet and stuck. It may explain the dischordant facets of the planet as well.

Unlikely? Sure. But not impossible. Planets don't blow up uniformely, and if there were fractures (if Pluto had been softened up previously by collisions with things orbiting the impactor, perhaps?) they could easily be re-activated, lessing the amount of stress necessary to toss the chunk into space wholesale.
What would make it even better is if it was a glancing blow at low speed. Enough to melt part of Pluto. The body that hit it would melt completely, forming its main moon. It would also create the other smaller moons. Where was this body before the collision? Maybe at a relatively stable point like L1, L2 or whatever. It would also explain why it was late in the solar system's evolution. Those points would be much more stable than Earth's points, having less to disrupt the object.
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Old 24th July 2015, 08:04 AM   #379
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Originally Posted by grmcdorman View Post
Cool. It's especially interesting to see the moons become worlds in their own right, when prior to this they were just single pixels in images.
The idea that we can see an object that is 25 miles across out by Pluto is mind-boggling. That is a LONG way out in space.
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Old 24th July 2015, 12:29 PM   #380
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From today: New Horizons Team Finds Haze, Flowing Ice on Pluto.
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Old 24th July 2015, 01:03 PM   #381
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Originally Posted by Corsair 115 View Post
Pluto is the Dwarf Planet that just keeps on giving. Surprise after wonderful surprise. 2015 should be remembered as a vintage year in space exploration.
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Old 24th July 2015, 01:18 PM   #382
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Quote:
“At Pluto’s temperatures of minus-390 degrees Fahrenheit, these ices can flow like a glacier,” said Bill McKinnon, deputy leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team at Washington University in St. Louis. “In the southernmost region of the heart, adjacent to the dark equatorial region, it appears that ancient, heavily-cratered terrain has been invaded by much newer icy deposits.”
Does that explain the lack of craters?
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Old 25th July 2015, 12:51 AM   #383
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33657447 Mountains made of water ice, and glaciers made of nitrogen ice. What a place.
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Old 25th July 2015, 06:12 AM   #384
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Originally Posted by CynicalSkeptic View Post
Does that explain the lack of craters?
Surely, although if Pluto is where it originally formed, I'd guess it didn't receive the same heavy bombardment that the inner System received.
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Old 25th July 2015, 06:21 AM   #385
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Originally Posted by Monketi Ghost View Post
Surely, although if Pluto is where it originally formed, I'd guess it didn't receive the same heavy bombardment that the inner System received.
But surely there Oort to have been more collisions than we see?
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Old 25th July 2015, 06:56 AM   #386
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla Sama View Post
But surely there Oort to have been more collisions than we see?
Oh Lord.
Perhaps so. Thinking the flow explains it, crater erosion.
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Old 25th July 2015, 07:09 AM   #387
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Yes. Think on it - nitrogen glaciers (nitrogen!). That means there's a whole hydrologic (nitrologic??) cycle: evaporation, precipitation (nitrogen snow!)...
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Old 25th July 2015, 07:26 AM   #388
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I have to admit, I thought Pluto would be uninteresting.
Sorry, Carl. I'm so happy to be mistaken!
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Old 25th July 2015, 07:31 AM   #389
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Originally Posted by Monketi Ghost View Post
I have to admit, I thought Pluto would be uninteresting.
Sorry, Carl. I'm so happy to be mistaken!
Somewhere Pluto is curled up at Sagan's feet, while Carl smirks at you.
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Old 25th July 2015, 07:33 AM   #390
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla Sama View Post
Somewhere Pluto is curled up at Sagan's feet, while Carl smirks at you.
Carl was the kind of guy more likely to pass me the dutchie, mon
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Old 25th July 2015, 07:39 AM   #391
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
The idea that we can see an object that is 25 miles across out by Pluto is mind-boggling. That is a LONG way out in space.
Not to mention being able to aim precisely at them, using preconfigured commands for the craft anticipating their placements at least 4.5 hours ahead of time... The mind boggles how the hell these people manage that
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Old 25th July 2015, 01:47 PM   #392
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Originally Posted by Grizzly Bear View Post
Not to mention being able to aim precisely at them, using preconfigured commands for the craft anticipating their placements at least 4.5 hours ahead of time... The mind boggles how the hell these people manage that
They probably have some pretty fancy slide rules and calculators.
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Old 25th July 2015, 01:48 PM   #393
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Originally Posted by Mike! View Post
They probably have some pretty fancy slide rules and calculators.
Abaci would do fine.
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Old 25th July 2015, 02:15 PM   #394
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Originally Posted by CynicalSkeptic View Post
Does that explain the lack of craters?
Not sufficient. Some of that material would have had to flow UP creator rims. Unless they are proposing some sort of superfluid, that sort of thing can't happen. Plus, we would expect other features if it were glacier-like movement, such as end moraines and the like (glacial geology is VERY well known, and any geologist taught in the north would identify them very quickly. They aren't present in the photos I have seen).
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Old 25th July 2015, 02:19 PM   #395
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
Not sufficient. Some of that material would have had to flow UP creator rims. Unless they are proposing some sort of superfluid, that sort of thing can't happen.
It happens on earth, not because water is a superfluid, but because it precipitates into craters, not only as liquid rain, but as hail or snow.
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Old 25th July 2015, 02:36 PM   #396
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
It happens on earth, not because water is a superfluid, but because it precipitates into craters, not only as liquid rain, but as hail or snow.
Neither of which have Ben observed on Pluto. They are essentially the same process as rain--precipitation of water on suspended grains of dust. It is just a question of how much water is added before it hits the ground, and whether it melts before it hits or not. Without weather on Pluto, we are left with either glaciers flowing uphill, or glaciers advancing without doing any scowering and then retreating for no known reason.

To be clear, I have little doubt this sort of thing contributes to SPME of what we are seeing on Pluto. It is just not an adequate explanation for most of it. It is almost certainly a relatively minor component.

Remember, the current ice age isn't as old as Pluto's surface--a hundred million years ago Earth was so warm thermohaline circulation in the oceans stopped. Glaciers move pretty far in a relatively short time (geologically speaking).
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Old 26th July 2015, 12:21 AM   #397
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Another explanation is that there is a hole at the edge of the creator. The fluid would have found the hole and gone it and good bye creator. Or maybe the edge is very weak and so collapsed.
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Old 26th July 2015, 02:12 AM   #398
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Another explanation is that there is a hole at the edge of the creator. The fluid would have found the hole and gone it and good bye creator. Or maybe the edge is very weak and so collapsed.
Again, there's no evidence of such a thing. And again, it doesn't explain the retreat. What would cause glaciers to retract on Pluto? On Earth it's loss of water--glaciers always flow outward, but there's a balance between water added and water lost. When the balance favors water added, they expand; when it favors water lost, they retract. What would make Pluto's glaciers lose water?

But bear in mind that's only one problem--the other is, as I said, the lack of evidence for such an event.
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Old 26th July 2015, 04:13 AM   #399
Gawdzilla Sama
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Another explanation is that there is a hole at the edge of the creator. The fluid would have found the hole and gone it and good bye creator. Or maybe the edge is very weak and so collapsed.
The creator is holey?
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Old 26th July 2015, 04:49 AM   #400
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla Sama View Post
The creator is holey?
Won't explain what we see. When glaciers find a weak point, they expand it, in very distinctive ways that just are not present. We see no U-shaped valleys, we see no moranes, we see no outwash (though that may be due to the P/T space of the underside of the glaciers). It's an interesting idea, and certainly was worth a look, but unless someone can present some evidence I am obliged to disagree with this explanation.
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