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xkcd: Possible Undiscovered Planets

Posted By Emily Lakdawalla

22-01-2016 13:00 CST

Topics: trans-neptunian objects, fun, explaining science

Randall Munroe is a genius at disguising seriously educational infographics as funny jokes. Behold today's xkcd: "Possible Undiscovered Planets," a reference, of course, to yesterday's announcement of theoretical evidence for a possible, distant ninth planet. Visit the xkcd site to enjoy the mouseover text (use this link if you're on a mouseless device).

xkcd: Possible Undiscovered Planets

Randall Munroe

xkcd: Possible Undiscovered Planets
From xkcd.
See other posts from January 2016


Read more blog entries about: trans-neptunian objects, fun, explaining science


Karen : 01/22/2016 06:19 CST

Fun chart. But shouldn't the Oort Cloud extend further to the right? Also, who really knows about the size, all we ever see is that which comes close to us, which may be a different size distribution; work like Levison's which suggests the potential of direct formation of bodies from the protoplanetary disc out in the Oort Cloud leaves the possibility of reasonably large bodies there. But really, who has the slighest clue at this point? ;) It's amazing to think about how much we *don't* know about our immediate neighborhood; we can only see the tiniest distance out into our "backyard".

DMiller: 01/24/2016 04:13 CST

About the Oort cloud - the last gradation mark on the horizontal axiz is at 10K AU, but the right end of the chart seems to be just about far away enough from Randall that he could have entered Alpha Centauri A and B near the right edge of the graph, inside the "see them during the day" area, at a little less than 300K AU. The Oort cloud only extends to roughly half of that distance! Agree on the graph being seriously educational, it had me learn a few things that I didn't know previously...

PatrickN: 01/24/2016 07:58 CST

A friendly amendment for Randall: "Planets *that* are actually birds."

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