Planetesimals to Brown Dwarfs: What is a Planet?
The past 15 years have brought about a revolution in our understanding of our Solar System and other planetary systems. During this time, discoveries include the first Kuiper belt objects (KBOs), the first brown dwarfs, and the first extrasolar planets. Although discoveries continue apace, they have called into question our previous perspectives on planets, both here and elsewhere. The result has been a debate about the meaning of the word "planet" itself. It is clear that scientists do not have a widely accepted or clear definition of what a planet is, and both scientists and the public are confused (and sometimes annoyed) by its use in various contexts. Because "planet" is a very widely used term, it seems worth the attempt to resolve this problem. In this essay, we try to cover all the issues that have come to the fore and bring clarity (if not resolution) to the debate.
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
- Pub Date:
- May 2006
- Earth Science;
- 23 pages