The grounds on which Pluto has discarded the status of a planet is based on folklore and astrology, and needs to be rethought, says a new study. With the introduction of one of the greatest marvels in space science, the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists and researchers are optimistic about the findings that await humanity. With the expanding horizons of exploration in space, a team of researchers sought to revisit the formation of the definition of planets. The new study, published in Icarus, suggests that the current criterion that passes a celestial body as a planet needs to be rescinded. It is the same criterion that resulted in the International Astronomical Union dismissing Pluto as a planet.
According to the definition, a planet must be spherical, should revolve around the sun, and should be the dominant gravitational entity in its orbit. While Pluto, which was discovered as a planet in 1930, fulfilled the first two conditions, the third condition was what revoked its status as a planetary body. The third condition wasn’t fulfilled since Pluto was not the largest gravitational body in its orbit and shared its orbit with frozen gases and objects in the Kuiper belt, along with the gravitational influence of Neptune.
“There is an explosion in the number of exoplanets that we have discovered over the last 10 years. The number is only going to increase as we put better telescopes in space,” said Philip Metzger, the lead author of the study, in a press release. He added that the current definition needs to be fixed. A torrential amount of space data will need a more accurate system to define the discoveries surfaced out of that data.
Researchers believe that this central idea about identifying planets is passed down from Galileo and is not compatible with the advanced knowledge about space that we are gaining today. They say that it is not the orbital scenario that defines the planet but the inherent characteristics up to the core that qualifies them as planets.