Tweet When it comes to getting my way, I have found my notorious puppy-pout to be my most valuable weapon. If there were ever a sport for this trait, I would be the Muhammad Ali of pouting.
Find out more A thoroughly sporadic column from astronomer Mike Brown on space and science, planets and dwarf planets, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the joys and frustrations of search, discovery, and life.
With a family in tow. Or perhaps in mutual orbit. Other than that, though, nothing was the same. Just a week earlier, on Dec 28thI had discovered the second brightest object that we had ever seen in the Kuiper belt the brightest, of course, being Pluto.
Maybe it had a dark comet like surface and so to be so bright it had to be really big! Maybe as big as Pluto! The object, now called Haumea, is now known to be about a third of the mass of Pluto and one of the strangest objects in the outer solar system.
Perhaps even more exciting, I had discovered the object while re-processing old images that I had taken a few years back. Maybe there would be more! It was that sort of head-spinning excitement that made it fun coming into the office every morning and going through the tedious and laborious process of examining everything that the computer had worked on the night before.
Most mornings the computer would spit out a list of a few hundred potential objects and I would examine them, one by one, to see if the computer was on to something or, like happened nearly every time, the computer had just found a smudge in the data or a glint in the sky and thought maybe it was something out there in the Kuiper belt.
But all of the false alarms from the computer were OK: And ten years ago today, it happened. After a morning of sorting through computer mistakes a big bright object appeared on my screen. It was almost as bright as the one from 8 days earlier.
But, crucially, it was moving more slowly than anything I had ever discovered before. Slowly moving means far away. But slowly moving and bright means bigger than anything we had ever seen before.
I did what I always do when I make what seem to be astounding discoveries: I assumed I had screwed something up.
Maybe I had set up the telescope wrong. Maybe the tracking was off. Maybe we were looking in the wrong spot in the sky. Shockingly — to me, at least — nothing was off.
The images were perfect. We had just found a second object even brighter than the one from 8 days earlier. This new object, found 10 years ago today, was, of course, Xena which became UB which finally became Eris.
The reason it appeared so bright in those earliest images is that it is one of the most reflective objects in the solar system — it is so far away that its atmosphere is frozen on to the surface, reflecting almost all of the light that hits it.
That discovery 10 years ago was exciting enough that it took me a few days to get back to looking at the old images, but, soon enough, I was sitting in this chair searching through a stack of images every day.
This one — Easterbunny then FY9 and now finally Makemake — is the second brightest object in the Kuiper belt and a fascinating laboratory for chemical and atmospheric processing on these distant bodies.
After Makemake we kept going.Begin writing your request for sabbatical. Write your name, address, phone number and e-mail address at the top right corner of your request. Write your boss's name, the company name and company address below your contact information and on the left side of the page.
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Dear Phil, On behalf of all mankind: Would you please slow down? We mortals have no chance to keep up with you. It is not funny anymore. We need a break. In this post I detail what goes into writing a successful sabbatical proposal detailing the components and information you want to include.
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