Prague – Our solar system has lost a planet! It’s the smallest and most desolate planet, Pluto, that is no more!
The most amazing thing about the news is the fact that first news was that the solar system was to gain three new planets (under a revised definition). So the first news proposal was for the solar system to be expanded to contain 12 planets (in two tiers), but now the IAU found that there is only eight!
Pluto is a planet no more after the world’s leading astronomers ruling that only eight celestial bodies deserved the prestigious title…
For a week, an assembly of 2,500 delegates at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has been debating Pluto’s future, as well as the status of three other bodies: Ceres, until now regarded as the solar system’s largest asteroid; Charon, one of Pluto’s moons; and a newly discovered object called 2003 UB313 – nicknamed Xena after the television warrior princess played by Lucy Lawless.
A seven-strong IAU committee that has spent two years deciding the criteria that command planetary status. This semantic issue has caused bitter disagreements between astronomers for years, as there has been no official ruling on what constitutes a planet. Broadly, large round objects that are not stars and which orbit the Sun rather than another planet have been considered planets, but no upper or lower limit has been set for size.
Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, a 24-year-old American astronomer, Pluto’s status as the ninth, oddly small planet had been in jeopardy since the 1990s – one of the longest-running controversies in astronomy. Pluto’s right to be called a planet was questioned when powerful telescopes revealed objects just as large also making distant orbits in the darkness beyond Neptune.