Fri. Nov 26th, 2021
Why Pluto Is Considered A Dwarf Planet

Why Pluto Is Considered A Dwarf Planet

When we were kids, we learnt in school that there are planets in our solar system, the last and smallest planet being Pluto. But Pluto’s classification as a planet has had a history of changes. Since 2006, per the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) planetary criteria, Pluto hasn’t been considered a planet because it hasn’t cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit of other objects. However, it does meet IAU’s criteria for what constitutes a dwarf planet.

Pluto, which is smaller than Earth’s Moon, has a heart-shaped glacier that’s the size of Texas and Oklahoma. This fascinating world has blue skies, spinning moons, mountains as high as the Rockies, and it snows – but the snow is red.

Why Pluto Is Considered A Dwarf Planet

Why Pluto Is Considered A Dwarf Planet
Why Pluto Is Considered A Dwarf Planet


What is a dwarf planet?


A “dwarf planet,” as defined by the IAU, is a celestial body in direct orbit of the Sun that is massive enough that its shape is controlled by gravitational forces rather than mechanical forces (and is thus ellipsoid in shape), but has not cleared its neighbouring region of other objects.


But why is Pluto a dwarf planet?


To be classified as a planet, the celestial body must a)orbit around the sun. , b)have enough mass so that its own gravity overcomes the rigid body forces and it assumes a spherical shape. c)Have a clear neighbourhood, in its orbit around the sun. But in the case of Pluto, has a  relatively round body. It orbits the sun but crosses Neptune’s orbit. Another factor is its size. Being so small, it cannot clear its path and hence has a very busy neighbourhood, thereby violating the definition of a planet.


On July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made its historic flight through the Pluto system – providing the first close-up images of Pluto and its moons and collecting other data that has transformed our understanding of these mysterious worlds on the solar system’s outer frontier.

Subhangee Guha

Break the Newz.

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