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Pluto and its biggest moon, Charon  (Source: NASA)
Pluto gets new classification: Plutoid

After being demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) two years ago, the IAU has announced the term "plutoid" will be given to Pluto and similar dwarf planets.  Members of the IAU argued amongst themselves for two years, confused on how to classify dwarf stars like Pluto.  

Only dwarfs orbiting further than Neptune can be classified as a plutoid, and they must also circle the sun and be large enough to have their own gravitational field.  Pluto's permanent classification as a plutoid now means Neptune is the outermost planet in Earth's solar system; one complete orbit around the sun takes almost 165 years.

"Plutoids are celestial bodies in orbit around the sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical) shape, and that have not cleared the neighborhood around their orbit," said the IAU.

Pluto and Eris remain the only plutoids at the moment, but astronomers expect to find other small bodies that meet the qualifications to be a plutoid.

The controversy over Pluto's planet status has been strong for years, and the IAU-created plutoid classification most likely will not end the debate.  In fact, it is unlikely the debate regarding Pluto's status and what it should be classified as will never end, and defining it as a "plutoid" will only add fuel to the fire.

Many astronomers remain angry that Pluto, considered a planet for around 70 years, could have its status demoted so easily by the IAU.  Text book publishers and teachers must now begin to teach students that Pluto lost its planet status and is now a plutoid, along with describing the new classification.

The IAU has been the sole organization responsible for classifying all planetary bodies for more than a decade.

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RE: Pointless
By Machinegear on 6/13/2008 10:55:54 AM , Rating: 5
Naw... You got it all wrong.

Sure up to recently, 9 was a good number (less than 10 fingers) but today we really had to renormalize the solar system down to 8 planets. Nine planets were already pushing the limits of today's youth. The adults in charge had to think fast to stop the scientists from counting up to 20! Can you imagine the educational disaster??? Kids would have to use toes! Toes I tell you!!!

RE: Pointless
By FITCamaro on 6/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: Pointless
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 6/13/2008 2:46:07 PM , Rating: 1
Well there is no humor when talking about Pluto.
Where you are talking about Pluto the place, Pluto the dog or not Plutoid the newly developed cult for planet want to be planets, or hunks of mass, or or or fine Plutoids......

RE: Pointless
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 6/13/2008 2:54:08 PM , Rating: 2
typooo my bad... Should be whether not where.

RE: Pointless
By bodar on 6/13/2008 8:28:37 PM , Rating: 2
Pluto is serious bidness, especially on the internets.

And double-especially for Pluto the dog, since he's the only only mentally challenged character in the core Disney universe. Ducks, mice, and even other dogs talk, have jobs, go on vacations, and lead enriched, anthropomorphic lives, but not Pluto. He's just a dog. OK, that was way longer than intended. /rant

RE: Pointless
By Pythias on 6/19/2008 1:02:31 AM , Rating: 2
Kids would have to use toes! Toes I tell you!!!

I can count to 21 when I'm not wearing now.

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