Astronomers hope to get Pluto recognized as planet in 2009

January 3rd, 2009 - 3:17 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 3 (ANI): In 2009, a group of astronomers is planning to get the ruling that Pluto is not the ninth planet of our solar system, overturned.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU), ruled in 2006 that there are no longer nine planets in the Solar System, and downgraded Pluto to the lowly status of a dwarf planet.

But, according to a report in The Independent, in 2009, Mark Sykes, director of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and his like-minded colleagues, hope to get the ruling overturned at the next general assembly of the IAU, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August.

The IAU is not the Holy Mother Church, so its pronouncements are not followed by everybody, said Dr Sykes. To me and many like me, Pluto remains a planet and there are still nine planets in the Solar System, he added.

The one thing that was particularly bad about the IAUs decision is that normally it makes pronouncements that are a mark of a general consensus, but here it has tried to impose its view on the rest of us, he further added.

The row over Plutos downgrading has been simmering since the astronomy organisation voted to relegate it in August 2006 in Prague.

It was agreed at the last vote of that conference after many scientists had left.

The IAU definition is so flawed on so many levels, said Alan Stern, principal investigator on a NASA mission, New Horizons. Its an awful definition; its sloppy science and it would never pass peer review, he added.

The IAU has coined the term plutoid for objects like pluto, which, while massive enough to form a near-spherical shape, do not have gravitational influence to clear the neighbourhood around their orbit of other objects.

If you took Earth out of the Solar System, the other planets would care. If you took Pluto out, it would make no difference to the orbits of the other planets, said Hal Levison of the South Western Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado who has studied the dynamics of planet definition.

But, Dr Sykes disagrees.

Pluto is far more like Earth than Earth is like Jupiter. Jupiter is a gas planet. It doesnt even have a surface or topography, unlike Pluto, he said.

The argument over Pluto is a demonstration that scientists can disagree and that science is not some dictatorial project its dynamic, he added. (ANI)

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