Friday, August 18, 2006

Planets or Plutons

Clarification on the Planet debate?

It seems to be a little confusing with the new definition of what is a planet raging on at the IAU. From what has been presented in the media here is what will happen if the IAU drafts this new definition:

Planets discovered before 1900 will continue to be called "planets."

A new sub-category of planets called "plutons" will be included.

Plutons will include, Pluto, Charon (Pluto’s Moon), Ceres, an asteroid once considered a planet in the 1800s, and object 2003 UB313, alternately called Xena.

In the future scientists will consider other objects to include in this sub category, thereby increasing the number of technical planets in out solar system but not necessarily in the traditional sense.

Another category will be adopted called, small solar system bodies. Tens of thousand of objects currently known will fall into this category.

Why is our moon or other moons around other planets not considered planets themselves if Charon, Pluto’s moon, becomes a planet (or more accurately, a pluton?) Well, the definition of a planet means it has a center of gravity that is not another object. Pluto and Charon are essential a double planet system revolving around each other and then revolving around the sun. The moon’s center of gravity is the earth.

This proposal seems very ambiguous. Is Pluto still a planet or are plutons not planets but a different class of planet? How many planets does our solar system have? 8 or 12?

This information came from a new article posted on Yahoo written by Sophie Pons.

More info as it comes in.


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