Pluto likely to remain a dwarf planet

September 12th, 2009  |  Published in Technology  |  1 Comment

The debate surrounding the demoted planet Pluto is set to reignite as astronomers meet next week in Brazil. The 27th general assembly of International Astronomical Union (IAU) will be the first since Pluto was stripped of its planetary status in 2006.

Despite not appearing on the official agenda, there have been rumors that Pluto supporters will push for a reopening of the debate.

At the centre of the debate is what defines a planet.

After the 2006 Prague general assembly the IAU amended its definition of a planet to include a clause that stated it “has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit” of other objects such as asteroids.

This definition ruled out Pluto, along with a number or recently discovered objects such as the somewhat larger Eris, along with Makemake and Haumea.

Dr Nick Lomb, curator of astronomy at the Sydney Observatory, who voted for Pluto’s demotion three years ago, doesn’t believe the definition will change.

“I don’t think there is that much support,” he says. “The impression I received in Prague … was that the majority were against having a large number of planets.”


Get articles in your inbox.

Enter your email address:

Join Us

Twitter Chatter