Pluto – From Being A Planet To Demoting As A Dwarf Planet

Scientific Research

In the era where astronomers were in search of new planets within the solar system, Clyde W. Tombaugh discovered a distant planet in the year 1930, which eventually got the name Pluto. An Oxford school girl gave the name “Pluto” and it ideally suits the isolated planet. For decades, it was announced and approved that the solar system consisted of nine [9] planets. However, with the increase in power and technology in space observatories new confusions started to arise.

Kuiper Belt

After many decades, it is found out that Pluto is not the only mass object floating in its region. There are numerous other objects some of them which are nearly 80% of the size of Pluto. Therefore, scientists and astronomers named the region as Kuiper Belt. More proof came to suggest that Pluto is just another object of the Belt and it is not a planet. There are similar objects in the region namely Eris, Ceres, etc. This led to the objections that Pluto cannot be a planet.

What is the definition of a planet?

In the year 2006, the International Astronomical Union had a general assembly to determine the fate of Pluto as a planet. Many ideas have come up and many definitions of planet came to the forefront.

IAU considered the best definition possible to describe a planet i.e. a planet should have a specific orbit around the sun with powerful gravity so to maintain a spherical shape and with the capability of clearing the neighborhood of the orbit in which the revolution takes place.

Pluto had a specific orbit and gravity that made it a spherical object; however, it did not fulfil the last criterion i.e. clearing the neighborhood. Pluto’s gravitational force is not strong enough to clear the objects of Kuiper Belt of its orbit. Therefore, Pluto has been regarded as a “Dwarf Planet” and excluded from the list of nine planets in the solar system.

So, our solar system has only eight [8] planets contrary to the childhood education received. However, there is great chance that there are still objects that could qualify as planets thus increasing the number of planets in the solar system.

BY : Maruthi Ram Kumar Jeelakarra

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