Pluto - Scientific Theories and Mysteries

About Pluto, scientific theories for the unexplained mysteries of Pluto.


Theories and Mysteries: Because of its orbital oddities, some astronomers speculate that Pluto is a runaway moon of Neptune. The planet is also an exception to the Bode Law of planetary distances, which predicted the orbital distance of Uranus. Pluto's orbit is too close at 39.52 astronomical units. (The earth is 1 astronomical unit from the sun.) The predicted location was 77.2 astronomical units.

The tiny speck visible in telescopes suggests that astronomers may be seeing a "ball-bearing effect," an icy highlight reflected from a larger, unseen planet. Its mass is not as dense as perturbations, or deviations, in the predicted orbits of Uranus and Neptune indicate. This suggests that it might even be a burned-out, superdense neutron star. Others concede that the error could be in the reported observations in the perturbations of Uranus and Neptune.

William H. Pickering of Harvard was so sure Pluto was the "wrong" planet that he suggested it was misnamed, and recommended that it be called Loki, for the god of thieves, instead. He believed the real Pluto should be massive and situated much more remotely.

Pluto remains a dark, cold, lonely voyager, as mysterious as its namesake--an unapproachable wanderer in the outer regions.

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