Along with 110 Other Solar System Bodies, Says Study

Kirby Runyon is a Johns Hopkins University scientist behind a renewed effort to restore Pluto’s lost title

All the authors were scientists on the New Horizons mission to Pluto, which the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory operated for NASA.

Now, scientists believe that "big" objects found in the Kuiper Belt as well as around the current planets should also be classified as planets, which would mean a drastic change for our solar system, which has remained relatively the same for most of its history.

In 2006, after the definition of Planet was provided by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Pluto was demoted from been a plane to a dwarf planet making the total count of planets in our solar system from nine to eight.

There are now four recognized dwarf planets in the solar system other than Pluto, but NASA suspects there could be over 100 such objects that haven't yet been discovered.

Kirby Runyon from the Johns Hopkins University would see justice returned to icy, tiny Pluto, and the debate about what a planet actually is finally settled. Should the definition be adopted, Pluto, Earth's moon and more than 100 other celestial bodies would suddenly be eligible for planetary status.

Runyon says Pluto "has everything going on on its surface that you associate with a planet ... there's nothing non-planet about it".

He pointed out that Pluto's orbit cross that of Neptune's from time to time, adding that Pluto's orbit is atypical of a full planet's behavior.

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"Pluto is a planet".

The scientists suggest planets should constitute as "round objects in space that are smaller than stars", thus excluding white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes from the planetary status. In 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft became the first to fly by Pluto, some 4.67 billion miles from Earth, passing within 8,000 miles and sending back the first close-up images ever made of Pluto.

This definition is different from the three-element IAU definition in a way the there has been no reference made to the celestial body surroundings.

Runyon will take questions on the proposed definition during a poster session Tuesday.

The key differences between the IAU and Stern definitions is that Stern's planets do not need to orbit a star, nor do they need to "clear their neighborhood". This new definition would also elevate bodies such as Jupiter's moon Europa, the former main belt asteroid and current dwarf planet Ceres, and even Earth's Moon to the category of planet.

According to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a planet is a celestial body (a natural body outside the Earth's atmosphere) that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass that its gravity pulls it into an nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit. Majority are closely affiliated with geology and other geosciences, thus making the new geophysical definition more useful than the IAU's astronomical definition, they said.

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