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Get Ready For The 100 Planet Solar System

Get Ready For The 100 Planet Solar System

The new definition of a full-sized planet, approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in August 2006 demoted Pluto from the position of ninth planet of solar system, hence bringing the total number of planets from nine to eight and since then, the topic - if Pluto is a planet or not - has been subjective to scientific debates.

They define a planet as "a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion", that has enough gravitational power to maintain a roughly round shape - even if it bulges at the equator (like Earth) because of a three-way squeeze of forces created by its gravity and the influence of both the sun and a nearby larger planet. It does away with the IAU's requirement that a planet and its moons move alone in their own orbit, not with a bunch of asteroids as well.

The researchers argue for a definition of "planet" that focuses on the intrinsic qualities of the body itself, rather than external factors such as its orbit or other objects around it. And if Runyon and the other people on the team he leads are successful, our Solar System would have more than 100 planets, including many bodies we now call moons.

"First, it recognizes as planets only those objects orbiting our Sun, not those orbiting other stars or orbiting freely in the galaxy as rogue planets", the researchers explained.

The visual simulation, posted to Reddit by user Nobillitie, shows the orbits of all eight planets in our Solar System - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - as well as thousands of dwarf planets beyond.

Planet or not, Pluto is one of the farthest entities of this solar system and is known to have a frigid solid surface.

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Runyon says there's "nothing non-planet about it". As the very word "planet" seems to carry a "psychological weight", he reasons that more planets could encourage that public interest.

Astronomers "may find the IAU definition perfectly useful", but "our geophysical definition is more useful for planetary geoscience practitioners, educators and students". "I want the public to fall in love with planetary exploration as I have", said Runyon.

So what do you think of the new classification system?

The poster will be on view for a full day on March 21 at the conference sponsored by the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Runyon will be on hand for at least three hours to answer questions about it according to Johns Hopkins University.

Six authors from five institutions were involved in the work: Kirby Runyon of Johns Hopkins University, S. Alan Stern and Kelsi Singer of the South Research Institution in Boulder, Tod Lauer of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Will Grundy of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, and Michael Summer of George Mason University.

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