If among readers there are fans of the animated series "Rick and Morty", then you definitely remember the series about Pluto and the son-in-law of the protagonist named Jerry. For those who don’t know, let’s explain: helping his 14-year-old son Morty with a scientific project, Jerry never ceased to say that Pluto is a planet. To prove to him that this is actually not the case, the heroes go to Pluto, where the locals refuse to deprive their home of planetary status. Jerry becomes a favorite of the public, each time loudly declaring: "Pluto is a planet." Until today, it was possible to laugh at Jerry calmly. However, now the situation has changed. The fact is that the most important person in NASA named Jim Bradenstein insists that Pluto is still a planet.
What is Pluto?
Pluto is the tenth most massed celestial body in the solar system. It is so small that it is approximately equal to the area of our country. The surface of Pluto is covered with stones and ice, while the planet has a rarefied atmosphere, which consists mainly of methane. As soon as Pluto moves away from the Sun, it freezes. And this is not uncommon, since the celestial body is located at a distance of 5900 million kilometers from our home star.
The period of Pluto's revolution around the Sun is 248 Earth years, and a day there last 152 Earth hours. The news of the existence of the most distant planet from the Sun was reported to the general public by astronomer Clyde Tombo on February 18, 1930. By the way, if you did not know, then Pluto was called the ruler of the underworld in ancient Roman mythology. The name of the planet Pluto was given by an 11-year-old girl named Venice Burnie.
You can discuss whether the dwarf planet was named after the dog Mickey Mouse Pluto here
After the discovery, Pluto was considered a planet, while in 2006 during the XXVI Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, scientists identified it as dwarf planets. This was due to the discovery of new large objects in the Kuiper belt, which is located outside the orbit of Pluto. Astronomers have a question – which objects should be considered a planet and which should not?
How is the dwarf planet different from the usual?
So, sort of sorted it out. But how is the dwarf planet different from the usual? According to the definition of the XXVI Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in 2006, it is a celestial body that:
orbits around the sun; has a sufficient mass in order to maintain a shape close to spherical; not a satellite of the planet; cannot, unlike planets, clear its orbit from other objects.
A planet is a celestial body that:
has a sufficient mass in order to maintain a shape close to spherical; a celestial body that has managed to clear its surroundings from other objects; revolves around stars and is neither a star nor a satellite of planets.
Read more about the differences between celestial bodies on our channel in Yandex.Zen.
Is Pluto a planet?
In recent years, reports in the world press have been full of headlines: “Pluto has been deprived of the status of a planet”, “Pluto has been restored the status of a planet”, “Why is Pluto not a planet?” And so on. We also often wrote about Pluto and its changing status.
In fact, the opinions of astronomers were divided. So in 2017, a group of scientists from Johns Hopkins University proposed to call Pluto nothing more than a planet. So NASA Director Jim Bradenstein recently made a statement that he considers Pluto a planet. The head of the American space agency substantiated his opinion by the fact that he always thought so. Yes, that’s so simple.
However, unless the international astronomical union changes the classification of dwarf and ordinary planets, Pluto will be a dwarf planet, despite the NASA’s director saying otherwise. And do you think Pluto is a planet or not?