Pluto and Moon Deserve Planet Status in Our Solar System, New Study Finds
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) should change its definition of a “planet” because the current one is based on folklore and astrology, says a new study. Currently, the IAU qualifies an astronomical body as a planet if it meets three criteria: first, it must orbit the sun, second, have sufficient mass, and third, it must “clean” the area around its orbit. As we know, our solar system has eight planets after Pluto was stripped of its planet status for failing to meet the third requirement since it shares its orbit with other objects. Interestingly, even Pluto and the Moon are planets according to the new research.
Current unscientific definition, study of claims
Conducted by the researcher at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, the study indicates that the current definition is not based on science but has its roots in folklore and astrology. Experts argue that the new definition should instead be based on factors such as the geological activity of the astronomical object. However, this would lead to even including thousands of asteroids in our solar system as planets. Study author Charlene E. Detelich said according to Daily Mail-
For the term planet, I and most planetary scientists consider round, icy moons to be planets. They all have active geological processes that are driven by a variety of internal processes, like anyone with sufficient mass to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium.
Before presenting their case for the new definition, the team of researchers reviewed 400 years of planetary science literature over a period of five years and found that the definition of planets formulated by Galileo in the 1630s is in being forgotten. Experts noted in their study that Galileo called a geologically active astronomical body a planet, a definition that was used until the 20th century, however, its popularity declined due to neglect of planetary science.
“We have shown through bibliometrics that there was a period of neglect when astronomers did not pay as much attention to the planets. And it was during this period of neglect that the transmission of pragmatic taxonomy from Galileo paused, ”University of Central Florida planetologist Phillip Metzger told the Daily Mail.
As compelling as the argument for the new definition might sound, its adoption would make all the asteroids and moons on different planets a planet of their own. According to NASA, Jupiter has a total of 79 moons surrounding it with Saturn and Uranus having 82 and 27 moons each, respectively. So if the new definition emerges strong enough, the number of planets in our solar system will reach well beyond 200.