This new definition states that an object with a mass of 10 times the mass of Jupiter should be considered a brown dwarf. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
A controversial question that has caused much debate throughout the years is: what is and what is not a planet? With the demotion of Pluto back in 2006, the decision to rewrite the definition of a planet has since been questioned. With the discoveries of massive objects outside our Solar System, including Jupiter-like giant planets, the line has become more blurred. John Hopkins University astrophysicist Kevin Schlaufman has proposed a new definition on the matter.
Schlaufman has suggested that the upper boundary of the mass of a planet is between four and ten times the mass of Jupiter. The reason for this is due to improvements in the technologies and techniques of astronomical observation. These improvements have led to more and more planetary systems being discovered beyond our Solar System, and showing robust patterns that lead to new revelations.
“While we think we know how planets form in a big-picture sense, there’s still a lot of detail we need to fill in,” says Schlaufman. “An upper boundary on the masses of planets is one ...