Pluto: is it a Planet After all? Let’s Take a Look at a New Argument


First discovered in 1930, Pluto’s status of planet was removed in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) due to the fact that its orbit was the same as that of Neptune.

A new argument has emerged

A new paper that was published in the planetary science journal Icarus and that comes from researchers at the University of Central Florida’s Space Institute, gives us a new argument, which might even be the most compelling one. According to Philip Metzger, the first author of the study, since 1802 no one has actually used the cleared-space argument in order to define a planet. He and the co-authors of the paper draw attention to the fact that no one has tried to make a separation between planets and asteroids using this reasoning.

The previous definition of planets not clear enough

The paper suggests that planets should not depend on descriptions of bodies that might change throughout time. Metzger stated that there are more than 100 new examples of planetary scientists that use the word planet in the wrong way, one that doesn’t agree with the IAU definition. He argues that the definition is, in fact, sloppy, as it doesn’t state evidently what “clearing the orbit” means for a planet. In his opinion, if we were to stick to that definition, we wouldn’t really have any planets, as no planet clears its orbit.

Instead, Metzger believes that a planet should get its status based on it being large enough to attain a spherical shape, which would be influenced by gravity, and that activates geological changes. Lars Lindberg Christensen, who is the IAU spokesperson, mentioned that a motion might be created in order to reassess the classification. However, nothing has been done until now.


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