Why Some Astronomers Think Pluto Should Be a Planet Again

Several astronomers are calling for Pluto to be reinstated as a planet again in light of a new study that claims earlier classification requirements were wrong.

As reported by ExtremeTech, a team of noted astronomers published the results of a 5-year study in the journal Icarus, posted on ScienceDirect. The research paper outlines how the concept of a planet has evolved in relationship to scientific theory and to culture, and builds a case for the restoration of Pluto’s planetary status following its declassification in 2006.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) previously claimed that Pluto failed to meet all three of its requirements to be classified as a planet: “it has to be round, orbit the sun, and have cleared its orbit of other objects.” As NBC News Notes, Pluto shared its orbit with objects called “plutinos” and was therefore declassified as a planet in our solar system.

Some experts are now arguing against the decision to relegate Pluto to “dwarf planet” status, claiming that the IAU’s definitions were based on a “folk concept of planet that contradicted the scientific view.” They believe the union should “rescind their non-scientific definition and stop teaching the revisionist history” because it could be damaging to planetary science.

The study asserts that “planets in any orbital state are unique as engines of complexity in the cosmos,” and that we should perhaps consider the solar system to have more than 150 planets, with different characteristics to distinguish each one. Pluto itself has a thin atmosphere, complex geology, and maybe even a 100km of ocean beneath its surface.

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