Friday, June 1, 2007

Pluto No Longer a Planet

The astronomical community’s consensus to reclassify Pluto’s status as a planet will have repercussions that won’t easily die down.

By: Vanessa Uy

That’s right, Pluto is no longer a planet. Astronomers didn’t have to wait the 248.4 years it takes for Pluto to complete it’s orbit around the sun to reclassify it from a planet to something like one of those large bodies that belong to the Kuiper belt. The Kuiper belt is the region of our solar system where short-period comets originate and this is where material that’s left over from the formation of the planets currently resides.

In 1978, it was found out that Pluto had a moon. The astronomical community named it Charon. Charon is almost the same size as Pluto and this “dumbbell system” has quite a curious effect on Pluto’s angular momentum. Pluto’s highly eccentric orbit will no longer make it as the farthest “planet” from the sun starting 1978. Pluto’s highly eccentric orbit is a consequence of Albert Einstein’s “General Relativity” theory.

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