A new study is making an astonishing claim about our solar system, and it could totally change how we understand our neighborhood.
A new study has just come to an explosive conclusion about our solar system that would totally alter our understanding of our corner of the galaxy: instead of just eight planets circling the sun, there are more than 100. That’s based on a paper published by Johns Hopkins University that argues that Pluto should be restored to its former planet status, and that there are 100 other objects in the solar system that should also be called planets.
Pluto was booted off the planet list back in 2006, as scientists determined that it wasn’t large enough to be called a planet, dropping the list to eight planets in the solar system. But a six-person team from Johns Hopkins argue that whether or not a celestial body is determined to be a planet should be based on the object iself, and not just where the cosmic body is located. For example, large moons like Titan and Europa aren’t described as planets even though there’s really no reason for them not to be, the authors argue.
If this position were accepted, it would mean that there are about 110 planets in our solar system after you add up all the moons, dwarf planets, and other objects circling our sun. And that would include Pluto as well.
“Runyon and his co-authors argue for a definition of “planet” that focuses on the intrinsic qualities of the body itself, rather than external factors such as its orbit or other objects around it,” the Johns Hopkins statement reads. “They define a planet as “a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion” and that has enough gravitational heft to maintain a roughly round shape. (Even if it bulges at the equator because of a three-way squeeze of forces created by its own gravity and the influence of both a star and a nearby larger planet.)
“This definition differs from the three-element IAU definition in that it makes no reference to the celestial body’s surroundings. That portion of IAU’s 2006 formula – which required that a planet and its satellites move alone through their orbit – excluded Pluto. Otherwise, Pluto fit the IAU definition: It orbits the sun and it is massive enough that the forces of gravity have made it round.”