The scientists at NASA might soon make it possible for Pluto to be regarded as a planet again. They published a manifesto in which they propose to change the definition of planet. This might not only bring Pluto back among the planets in our solar system, but also the Moon and 100 more other celestial bodies.
The main change that they want to propose is the fact that cosmic bodies should no longer be orbiting the Sun to be regarded as planets. The scientists want to classify planets based on their physical properties and not their interaction with stars.
The team that promotes these changes is led by Alan Stern, the main researcher in the New Horizon mission to Pluto that, in 2015, succeeded in flying by the controversial dwarf planet. Pluto was ‘downlisted’ to the status of dwarf planet in August 2006, when Mike Brown, astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, proposed the revision of the definition of planet.
The new definition of a planet in our solar system proposed by Brown contains the following requirements. A planet should orbit the Sun, has a sufficiently big mass that convey it a round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit. Since Pluto had not cleared its orbit neighborhood yet, it could no longer be considered a planet.
Stern is quite vehement against this definition. One of the reasons for this is the fact that it was submitted by an astronomer and he claims that he and his team of planetary scientists are more entitled to establish the suitable definition of a planet. This is why they have rewritten the definition and have submitted it to the International Astronomical Union to be taken into consideration.
They propose a geophysical definition that classifies as planets cosmic bodies that have never undergone nuclear fusion and that have enough self-gravitation so that they can maintain a spheroidal shape. In other words, the objects in space that are round and smaller than stars can be regarded as planets.
This definition would not only bring Pluto back among the planets in our solar system, but also our Moon, as well as the moons of other planets, including Ganymede, Titan, Europa, and Enceladus.
Also, they not only regard their definition as more suitable, they also state that the current one is flawed. If everything goes according to their plan, we might soon have a whole lot of new planets in our solar system, and get the beloved little Pluto back to its former status.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons