Pluto is no more a planet reads the headline in today’s HINDU.
Earth’s neighbourhood just shrank. The International Astronomical Union has demoted Pluto to a dwarf planet. The Union, which has the world’s leading astronomers, has changed the definition of what a planet is.
Till now any object larger than 800 kilometers in diameter and orbiting the sun qualified as a planet. But according to the new definition, a planet must be the dominant object in the area – a criteria that ruled puny Pluto out from the big boy’s club.
Pluto, the smallest and the further most planet in our solar system was discovered in 1930. Since then, many similar objects have been found floating around the Kuiper Belt, which is the outer region of the solar system. So now Pluto, along with it’s largest moon Charon, the asteroid – Ceres and the newly discovered Xena will all be called dwarf planets or ‘Plutons’.
So, while Pluto’s change in status may not really affect the astrologers or the astronomers, the planet will be brushed out of school and university textbooks.
And Pluto the dog doesn’t have to compete with the planet anymore.
Update: A couple of interesting articles related to ‘Pluto’s demotion’ appeared this week in THE HINDU.