NASA Chief “Pluto is not a Dwarf Planet”
For planetary scientists, August 24, 2019 is a bad day. Because of Pluto.
Thirteen years ago, the 2006 International Astronomical Union (IAU) classified Pluto as a dwarf planet, not a planet, under the new Planetary Classification Act.
Dwarf asteroids are planets and other planets that have a mass that orbits the sun and have enough mass to maintain a sphere, but are not satellites of other planets, but have not attracted other objects around orbit.
Many astronomers disagree with the IAU decision
However, not all astronomers have accepted the IAU decision.
In particular, Jim Bridenstine, director of NASA, is raising her voice to include Pluto in the solar system’s group.
According to the science professional sciencealert on the 26th, he repeatedly claimed that “Pluto is a dwarf, not asteroid,” when he visited the space engineering building on the University of Colorado Boulder.
In the meantime, he has repeated this statement on the unofficial stone statue of Bridensteen. It was an impromptu statement that gave a light opinion of its own, but as the news became known, it was uncomfortable for the planting of planetary scientists, who played a major role in removing Pluto from the planetary group.
Every time I complained about the IAU’s actions, I had a strong argument against it for a variety of reasons, but I didn’t get much response. This case is similar. Academia is not receiving much support.
But in 2006, the IAU had already foreseen the plunge of Pluto from a planet to a dwarf asteroid.
Before the IAU’s decision, on July 29, 2005, astronomer Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology published a report stating that he had discovered a larger body than Pluto. The object was given a temporary name, “2003 B313.”
The problem was that the object had the shape of a planet like Pluto at the time, and the mass was 27% larger. In fact, the solar system was the ninth planet one step ahead of Pluto. This result has caused controversy about the planet among astronomers.
Standing in a controversial position, the IAU holds its General Assembly on August 24, 2006 in Prague, Czech Republic, to resolve a new definition of the planet. According to the new standard, Pluto and ‘2003 B313’ are classified as dwarf asteroids.
“You must distinguish Pluto from other dwarfs.”
Mike Brown, who discovered the 2003 B313, asked the IAU to name the Greek goddess Eris for the 2003 B313, which would be accepted.
Professor Brown’s suggestion of the name of the goddess in Greek mythology, as with other planets, is based on the expectation that the dwarf planet will be re-lotted at some time. We can expect that there will be a change in IAU decisions as long as we can have this hope.
Indeed, as many astronomers raised questions, the IAU decision was controversial at the time.
What was causing the IAU at the time was because Pluto was near the Kuiper Belt, an assembly of about 200 small objects that orbit the sun outside Neptune.
Astronomers at the time judged that Pluto did not have enough gravity to attract the Kuiper belt. In this situation, distrust of Pluto prevailed, with the discovery of eryths larger than Pluto.
The inclusion of Pluto into an existing planetary group was a difficult situation for how many objects in the Kuiper Belt should be defined. It is analyzed that it would have been difficult to treat Pluto and treat other objects as garbage for the IAU.
However, new discoveries continued after Pluto’s position was degraded through new standards and regular general meetings. A new measurement of Eris in 2011 reduced the diameter of 2600km to 2326km, which is not much different from Pluto’s 2306km.
In orbit, Eris is much more out of the solar system than Pluto, so there has been a constant claim to restore Pluto back to the planet.
Moreover, the discovery of the dwarf planet ‘2018VG18’ (aka Farout), which is 3.5 times farther away from Earth and Pluto’s distance last year, raises the question of whether Pluto should be identified as ‘Farout’.
The controversy is that only 424 of the 9,000 astronomers who participated in the vote at the time of Pluto’s downgrade. Hundreds of astronomers have already appealed for a vote after the vote.
Planetary scientist Alan Stern, NASA’s New Horizons mission manager, has been constantly disappointed with the 2006 IAU decision.
In an interview with Science Alert, he said, “The IUA decision was not convincing and scientifically contradicted. He suggested that he would continue the controversy, saying, “I cannot submit to the decision that degraded Pluto’s position.”