Life Of Navin

Random Musings, Random Bullshit.


Pluto Is Now A 'Plutoid'!!

A dude named William Shakespeare once famously noted, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet". I can bet you that he'd not even heard of Pluto, a tiny lump of matter situated roughly 39.5 astronomical units away from the star that we humans call the Sun. Pluto's naming woes simply don't seem to end!!

In a weird twist of events, The International Astronomical Union, which has been responsible for naming planetary bodies and their satellites since the early 1900s, has decided on the term "plutoid" as a name for Pluto and other objects that just two years ago were renamed as "dwarf planets."

Even amidst criticism among astronomers across the world, the IAU announced its decision at a meeting of its Executive Committee in Oslo. Many astronomers claimed that they had no idea such a decision would be taken. A meeting of the Applied Physics Laboratory in August is now set to debate the entire topic of defining planets.

The term plutoid joins a host of other odd words such as plutinos, centaurs, cubewanos and EKOs that astronomers have come up with, in recent years, to define objects in the outer solar system, whose appearance seems to grow more complex every year.

Below is the Official definition of a Plutoid:

"Plutoids are celestial bodies in orbit around the sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical) shape, and that have not cleared the neighborhood around their orbit."

English Please?? : Plutoids are small round things beyond Neptune that orbit the sun and have lots of rocks as neighbours!!

The IAU has named two plutoids, Pluto and Eris.

The dwarf planet Ceres, which skipped grades from asteroid to planet, is however not a plutoid as it is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, according to IAU's report.

So Pluto, after recent developments is
  • An ex-planet, a Kuiper belt object,
  • A plutino (the unofficial but nearly universally accepted name for objects in the 2:3 resonance with Neptune),
  • A dwarf planet, and now
  • also a plutoid!!
Phew .....Speak of an identity crisis!!

This seems like an unattractive term and an unnecessary one to me --David Morrison, astronomer at NASA's Ames Research Center



Finally after all these years, here's to the beginning of what was there, what is there and hopefully what will remain!! So here are my thoughts & words -Online!!

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