The solar system has been mourning the loss of one of their members who was declared a dwarf planet and transferred to join more than 40 other bodies which have been classified as dwarfs in the past. Pluto has now become the largest body in the Kuiper Belt. This decision to take away Pluto’s position as the smallest planet was arrived at a meeting of the Astronomical union in Prague, Czech Republic in 2006. The decision was taken after the word planet was given an official definition as “an object that orbits the sun and is large enough to have become round due to the force of its own gravity and dominate the neighborhood around its orbit” (Mason, 2006).
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Up to that time it was realized that Pluto, who has been enjoying position nine among world classed objects, has no dominance in its neighborhood since a several objects like comets, asteroids among others are still detected along its path. However, this decision has been objected on grounds that Pluto has had a historical significance which should have been considered, and that the definition raised the standard so high which will make discovery of another planet to replace Pluto.
Pluto was up to his demise, was the smallest member of the solar system whose orbit is adjacent to, but slightly far than that of Neptune. Its discovery dates back to 1930 by 22 year old Clyde W (Fraser, 2012). Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona. Clyde was observing and comparing photos when he discovered an object that was not any moving object like a comet or an asteroid. It was named Pluto, after the name of a Roman god of the underworld, a name suggested 11 year old school girl.
Pluto is composed mainly of rock and ice probably in the ratio 7:3; and has a temperature of as low as -228°C and an average temperature of-236°C. it is about 2274 km in diameter, a fifth of Earth’s diameter. It weighs approximately 1,29 x 1022 Kg, 0.2% of Earth’s mass. It is also 39 times farther than the Sun (4.447 billion to 7.38 billion km) from the Sun (Fraser, 2012). It has three moons namely Charon, Nix and Hydra. Charon is the largest moon serving Pluto and is about half the planet’s size. This moon was named Charon, a name that is associated with underworld god, Pluto. It is said that Charon is the demon who ferried the dead to Pluto. Charon is closer to Pluto than are the other two moons. Nix is inner of the two moons, while Hydra is outer (Fraser, 2012).
Doubts whether Pluto has been and will continue to be a planet or not, emerged when objects larger than Pluto and its largest moon were discovered in the Kuiper Belt. This is a region outside the orbit of Neptune. Although is estimated that there are more than 70,000 objects which are similar to Pluto in composition, Eris is larger than Pluto. The discovery of Eris, an object similar in composition to but larger than Pluto, in 2005 by Mike Brown and his team settled the matter that Pluto was not similar to the other eight planets, but a final decision was to be made by General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. It is so sad that Pluto is now not one of the members of the solar system. However, it is comforting that Pluto is now the largest body among all dwarf planets.
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