Free Press Journal

Is Pluto really a planet or not?


New York : Is Pluto a planet or not? Giving this debate a fresh angle, Johns Hopkins University scientist Kirby Runyon wants to make one thing clear: Regardless of what people say, Pluto is a planet. So, Runyon says, is Europa – commonly known as a moon of Jupiter – and so is the Earth’s Moon and so are more than 100 other celestial bodies in our solar system that are denied this status under the prevailing definition of “planet”.

The definition approved by the International Astronomical Union in 2006 demoted Pluto to “non-planet,” thus dropping the consensus number of planets in our solar system from nine to eight.

“The change – a subject of much scientific debate at the time and since – made no sense,” said Runyon, lead author of a paper set to be presented next week at a scientific conference in Texas.

Icy, rocky Pluto had been the smallest of the nine planets; its diameter under three-quarters that of the moon and nearly a fifth of Earth. Still, says Runyon, Pluto “has everything going on its surface that you associate with a planet,there’s nothing non-planet about it”. Runyon led a group of six authors from five institutions in drafting a proposed new definition of “planet”.              –IANS