Pluto Should Be Acknowledged As Planet, Experts Suggest
When Pluto was stripped of its status as a planet, ruckus was raised and hate mails were sent across to the related authorities. Now it seems that astronomers are giving the decision a second thought.
In a recent debate hosted in Cambridge, Mass. at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics, three experts in planetary science duked it out over if Pluto should be considered a planet.
Dr. Gareth Williams, associate director of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, said the icy body does not qualify for planetary status. But Dr. Dimitar Sasselov, director of Harvard's Origins of Life Initiative, argued otherwise. And Dr. Owen Gingerich, professor emeritus of astronomy at Harvard and a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, argued that defining what a planet is shouldn't be up to scientists, as quoted by the Huffington Post.
"What is a planet is a culturally defined word that has changed over the ages. The IAU was foolhardy to try and define the word planet," he added.
The definition established by International Astronomical Union (IAU) reads that a planet is a celestial object that meets three requirements: it is round, it orbits the sun, and it has exerted gravitational dominance in its surrounding area, "clearing the neighborhood" of other bodies around its orbit.
Pluto doesn't meet the last criterion, as objects similar in size to Pluto are nearby.