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Posted: March 20, 2017

Study: Solar system could have more than 100 planets (including Pluto)

This high-resolution image captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft shows the bright expanse of the western lobe of Pluto’s
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This high-resolution image captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft shows the bright expanse of the western lobe of Pluto’s "heart," or Sputnik Planitia, which is rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ices.

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By Fiza Pirani, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Remember when Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006? Well, a group of scientists is making a case for its comeback as the proper planet many of us grew up knowing.

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Johns Hopkins University scientist Kirby Runyon and his colleagues have proposed new criteria for classifying a planet that would not only label Pluto a planet again, but would label 100 other objects in the solar system as planets, too.

According to Tech Times, the current definition of a planet — last changed by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006 — requires that a celestial body is in orbit around the Sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome “rigid body forces” so that it retains a nearly round shape and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

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Pluto was demoted because it doesn’t meet IAU’s requirement of a clear area throughout its orbit.

But according to Runyon and his colleagues, no planet has actually completely cleared its orbit. Even Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune share their orbits with asteroids, according to Science Daily.

Instead, the scientists argued, the definition of a planet should focus on the body itself and not things like location.

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Under their new proposed criteria, a planet is “a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion” with enough gravitational heft to maintain a roughly round shape, Science Daily reported.

Based on this definition, there could be nearly 110 planets in the solar system, including both Jupiter’s and Earth’s moons.

According to Science Daily, the new definition doesn’t require approval from a central governing body and has already been adapted by scientists at the University of Hawaii.

Read more about the study at ScienceDaily.com.


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