In 2006, the wet blankets at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded Pluto — that cute, cold li’l rock ball in the Kuiper belt — from a regular planet to a dwarf planet, upsetting anyone with a heart, soul, and basic knowledge of our solar system. According to CNN though, some brave scientists have been intuiting the things I’ve written in my many angry, unaddressed letters, and cried about to my therapist, and are arguing that Pluto never should have been downgraded in the first place. We know!!
The IAU downgraded Pluto’s status 12 years ago, because it only meets two of the three criteria for what makes a planet:
1. It is a celestial body that orbits the Sun,
2. It has enough mass to assume a round or nearly round shape, and
3. It “clears the neighborhood” around its orbit.
Though Pluto is round and orbits the Sun, the IAU argued that it was too small to “clear the neighborhood” by knocking space rocks out of its path.
A new study published in the scientific journal Icarus, however, says that this rationale is neither current nor useful.
Philip Metzger, a University of Central Florida planetary scientist who is the lead author on the study, says planets should be classified based on whether they’re big enough for gravity to shape them into spheres.
“And that’s not just an arbitrary definition,” he said. “It turns out this is an important milestone in the evolution of a planetary body, because apparently when it happens, it initiates active geology in the body.”
Exactly. Metzger also said the only planet more complex than Pluto is Earth, which is pretty cool, and that Pluto has dunes made of methane ice, mountains covered in methane snow, and maybe an underwater ice ocean (very metal).
Maybe now, after 12 years, the scientists at the IAU will finally stop ruining my freakin’ life and give Pluto the status it deserves. Thank you.