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Pluto is back!

Pluto Is Back!

Fans of the d-d-dwarf planet (yes, it’s still hard to say) Pluto can rejoice at the news of a small victory for the formerly ninth planet of our solar system.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union issued its new definition of a planet and Pluto failed the third test – “clearing the neighborhood around its orbit” by becoming the dominant gravitational force in the area. After being reclassified as a d-d-dwarf planet, Pluto suffered the further indignity of being designated the second-largest of these behind the newly-discovered tenth planet wannabe, Eris.

Pluto supporters did not give up. In 2010, measurements taken during a stellar occultation showed Eris has a diameter of 2,326 km, much closer to the size of Pluto than first thought. Now, a report in the latest edition of the journal Icarus reveals that methane gas analysis of Pluto puts its diameter at 2368 km, moving it ahead of Eris as the largest d-d-dwarf planet and returning champion of the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt.

kuiper

Eris supporters (all three of you) point out that the size battle with Pluto won’t be settled until July 2015, when the New Horizons spacecraft of NASA’s Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission passes Pluto and takes an accurate measurement.

Artist's depiction of the New Horizons spacecraft

Artist’s depiction of the New Horizons spacecraft

In the meantime, let’s all say it together: Pluto rocks!

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  • Joshua J. Slone

    Pluto is a rock.

  • Jurgen Reitze Hidler

    The case with Pluto its the same as when you live in a street with a name( p.ex.: Aleppo”, and then the gov. changes to “Doctor Arellano”. You was living in a street with a romantic exotic name, and then you are in a ward. Horrible. Same thing with Pluto. Nine planets, and then you have only 8- your planetary system is smaller than when you were a teenager.
    Horrible.

  • Jurgen Reitze Hidler

    Yeah, it rocks.

  • mph23

    I’m an Eris supporter. I like the name better, and I’ve read the ‘Illuminatus!’ trilogy. Pluto would have more solar system cred if it was called ‘Hades’. Most americans think of that dumb disney dog when they hear ‘Pluto’.