Dwarf Planets Now Called Plutoids

Although Pluto was stripped of its planetary status two years ago, it is now regaining some measure of respect, as similar newly discovered distant bodies will be named “plutoids.” The IAU is defining plutoids as “objects that circle the sun and are too small to be considered planets, but big enough to have a level of gravity that keeps them in a near spherical shape.” By this definition, Eris, an object discovered in 2003, will also be designated a plutoid.

This is all well and good, but I tend to agree with Ralph McNutt, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University, who said, “I grew up with nine planets, I’m sorry.” :-p

Update: A Space.com article has some more information, including concern by some that this pronouncement is “just one more confusing term in the cosmic lexicon,” considering the fact that:

The term plutoid joins a host of other odd words – plutinos, centaurs, cubewanos and EKOs – that astronomers have conjured in recent years to define objects in the outer solar system, whose appearance seems to grow more complex every year.

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