There’s a tiny little bit of joy to be had from the last few hours of this dumpster fire of a year for a certain non-planet, planet friend of ours.
Folks, Pluto might become a planet again.
Last we checked in on our demoted pal, Pluto, it was still most certainly not a planet, despite a decade-and-a-half’s worth of protesting from overly invested astronomy fans. While it’s highly unlikely the International Astronomical Union (IAU) will backtrack on its 2006 decision, the debate has heated up again, kinda.
Pluto had been considered the ninth planet since its discovery in 1930, but the IAU decided in 2006 that a planet must be spherical, orbit the sun and have gravitationally “cleared” its orbit of other objects.
A group of researchers are now saying Pluto was unfairly maligned by this decision to relegate it to “dwarf planet” status. They want Pluto to be considered a planet again.
But, it isn’t as simple as giving Pluto back its title, because of course it’s not. In an article published in research journal Icarus, the TL;DR is that they don’t just want Pluto back, they want another 150 non-planet, planets added to the list.
As NBC News breaks it down, the team of scientists allege that the current planetary classification system is based more on outdated astrological terminologies. Basically, that the system used by the IAU should be updated to reflect the modern age.
A “planet” by their definition is “any geologically active” body in space, which not only would rope Pluto back into the fold, but also moons like Europa, Enceladus and Titan, as well as the asteroid, Ceres.
About 150 new “planets” (!!!) would then be elevated to planet status with the existing eight.
“We are continuing to call Pluto a planet in our papers, we are continuing to call Titan and Triton and some other moons by the term ‘planet’,” NBC quotes Philip Metzger, the study’s lead author and a planetary physicist at the University of Central Florida, as saying.
Basically, he is ignoring the IAU and I’m here for this extremely 2022 vibe.