News Analysis 1: Is Pluto a Planet?

The paradigm that most astronomers are debating about today is the question concerning Pluto being a planet or not. The reason this argument is still present today is because astronomers do not know how to categorize Pluto due to it’s traits. First of all, Pluto is a very very small object in space. It has it’s own gravitational pull and it’s mass is “0.0021Earths”, which is 0.0021 of Earth’s size. “Pluto is tiny, but it was considered larger than anything else past the orbit of Neptune.” Pluto has it’s own moons, and they are known to be just a large example of a collection of objects called the Kuiper Belt. This region extends from the orbit of Neptune out to 55 astronomical units (55 times the distance of the Earth to the Sun).” However, due to it’s miniature size, the main question that they ask themselves is, what defines a planet? Pluto has some of the characteristics that most planets have, but it does not have all. There are three rules to determine whether or not an object in space is in fact a planet. The first rule being that “it needs to be in orbit around the Sun”, and Pluto does in fact orbit around the sun. The second rule is that “it needs to have enough gravity to pull itself into a spherical shape”, and yes, pluto does in fact maintain a spherical shape. The third and final rule is that “it needs to have “cleared the neighborhood” of its orbit”, which means that pluto has to be the biggest object in its orbit. Unfortunately, pluto does not follow this rule. According to this, Pluto is considered a dwarf planet. Dwarf plants are not considered official planets, therefore some astronomers have already came to their conclusion, but other astronomers believe that Pluto still needs to undergo more studies. “NASA has sent their New Horizons spacecraft off to visit it. New Horizons will reach Pluto in July 2015, and capture the first close-up images of the (dwarf) planet’s surface.” I do believe that Pluto is a planet mainly because of the second rule, the fact that a planet has to maintain a spherical shape. A planet has to have a gravitational force of some kind, so to be able to maintain a spherical shape means that Pluto is indeed just a tiny planet. Pluto being a planet or not will not really affect me in any way, it will affect every astronomers in the world. They will have a deeper understanding on our solar system which will lead to more discoveries. Despite everything, we still have to wait for the results from NASA in July 2015.



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