A group of scientists are lobbying to restore Pluto's planetary status

20 March, 2017, 22:59 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • Haze around Pluto appears blue in this image captured by New Horizons and processed to replicate the color a human eye would see

Many people, scientists and laymen and I, cried bloody murder at the ruling - we had just lost one of the nine Solar planets. And if Runyon and the other people on the team he leads are successful, our Solar System would have more than 100 planets, including many bodies we now call moons.

Six authors from five institutions were involved in the work: Kirby Runyon of Johns Hopkins University, S. Alan Stern and Kelsi Singer of the South Research Institution in Boulder, Tod Lauer of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Will Grundy of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, and Michael Summer of George Mason University.

Indeed the New Horizons mission which passed within 8,000 miles of Pluto and sent back the first close-up images ever made of the [dwarf] planet, showed stunning surface features including what could be the tell-tale signs of a sub-surface ocean. Their argument and supporting information will be on display at next week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.

This definition can be paraphrased for school children as a "round objects in space that are smaller than stars".

Pluto was demoted to "non-planet", according to definition approved by International Astronomical Union (IAU) in the year 2006 and the number of planets from then dropped from nine to eight. He said that Pluto is basically being a planet, Phys.org reported. That ignores numerous "rogue planets".

But, based on that last aspect it could be reasoned that the IAU definition also excludes Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune too, as they share their orbits with asteroids. The increase would make understanding the solar system more hard - but ultimate more rewarding, the astronomers said. It is very large relative to the body it orbits and isn't in the equatorial plane of its parent planet. The part that required a planet and its satellites move alone though their orbit- did not include Pluto. Otherwise, Pluto fit the IAU definition: It orbits the Sun and it is massive enough that the forces of gravity have made it round. The object also has sufficient gravitational mass to keep its round shape although it expands at the equator due to a three-way squeeze of forces generated by its gravity and the impact of the Sun and close-range bigger planet.

Researchers say the new definition does not require approval from a central governing body. "It drives home the point of continued exploration". Most are closely affiliated with geology and other geosciences, thus making the new geophysical definition more useful than the IAU's astronomical definition.

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