back to article Pluto revealed as KING of the Kuiper belt

As astroboffins prepare themselves for the arrival of data from New Horizons' nearest approach in its Pluto fly-by, the little probe has already revised opinion about how big/small the planet/dwarf planet really is. Pluto won't get to recover its lost status as a planet, but NASA's New Horizons team has confirmed that at 2,370 …

  1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

    The Dwarf King

    If we are forced to accept that it's a dwarf planet, and as we now know it is King, can we rename it to Durin? Or how about Goldemar?

    1. Michael Hoffmann
      Boffin

      Re: The Dwarf King

      In keeping with naming after gods of the Roman pantheon, it might have to be something like Bes. A dwarf god originally of ancient Egypt but, like many others, adopted into the Roman Empire. Popular among the legions, it seems.

      Might even be fitting: the "foreign non-planet" is "adopted" into the pantheon of the "proper" planets.

      1. AbelSoul
        Trollface

        Re: it might have to be something like Bes

        Does that also mean Charon and Hydra get to be maracas? (Not sure about Styx and the rest of the gang though.)

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: The Dwarf King

      Pluto + Durin == Purin

      It would even have the right color.

      Delicious!!

      1. Helena Handcart
        Childcatcher

        Re: The Dwarf King

        Pluto + Durin == Putin

  2. stizzleswick
    Boffin

    No persuasion possible

    "That's still smaller than Earth's moon, at 3,475 km – so sorry, Pluto fans, you still won't persuade academic astronomy to upgrade it back to being called a planet."

    Even if it were larger than Jupiter, Pluto would not be a planet by the IAU definition, not having cleared its orbit of other objects. On the other hand, of course, any object with the mass of Jupiter would have done so pretty early on. The IAU definition also has no definition based on size as such, only that the object to be called a planet would have to be in near hydrostatic equilibrium, i.e., shaped near-spherically due to the gravity induced by its own mass.

    I am somewhat saddened by the many people who insist on categorising Pluto as a planet, when the reason the IAU formed a group to hammer out a binding definition of the term "planet" for the first time was the discovery not only of many approximately Pluto-sized objects beyond Neptune (the TNOs or Trans-Neptunian Objects, most of which turned out to be part of what is now called the Kuiper Belt), but also that there are several objects co-orbiting with Pluto which are not orbiting Pluto at the same time.

    The IAU did not, as I once heard from a fellow hobby astronomer, "vindictively downgrade Pluto," but they for the first time defined what a planet actually is. Pluto, if you so will, was unlucky in falling through the grid by not fitting one of the three criteria. Case closed, get over it.

    All that said, I am following the incoming data on the first TNO ever explored at relatively close range with high anticipation. This is already very interesting, and will become more so as New Horizons will continue sending the data being gathered during the Pluto encounter over the next two years.

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: No persuasion possible

      I grew up with Pluto as a planet. Now it is a TNO. That's fine with me. They can call it anything that works (except for calling it 'late for dinner', as my Nana used to say, though not about Pluto in particular). I'm more disturbed by the reaction to what is essentially a semantic change, than the change itself. People! The actual object isn't effected by what we call it in one particular language at one particular point in time! And it will still be there long after the last traces of humanity are subducted back into the Earth's mantle.

      1. LaeMing Silver badge
        Happy

        As I work my way down my RSS list

        Pic related:

        http://explosm.net/comics/3989/

      2. cray74

        Re: No persuasion possible

        The actual object isn't effected by what we call it in one particular language at one particular point in time!

        Says someone who isn't the least concerned about Pluto's feelings. It can really take it out of someone to suddenly be lumped in with a crowd just because you've got a big family and are a bit short.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: just because you've got a big family and are a bit short

          So you're actually suggesting Pluto should be renamed Tyrion ?

      3. Jan 0

        Re: No persuasion possible

        I applaud LaeMing's comment: I grew up with Australia as a large island. Nowadays it pretends to be a continent, but it's still the same Australia. Hurrah for Pluto, hurrah for Australia, long may you prosper!

        1. LaeMing Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: No persuasion possible

          I grew up with Australia as an independent country. Now it is becoming effectively an annex to the US.

          Might be time to move. Pluto is looking interesting lately!

      4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: No persuasion possible

        Pluto is a dwarf planet.

        If 'dwarf' is an adjective, then Pluto *is* a planet. A dwarf one.

        Maybe the astronomers meant 'Pluto is a Dwarf_Planet.'

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: No persuasion possible

      It's no surpirse the more we know, the more differences we found, and classifications get updated.

      There are speculations that some large bodies, much larger than Pluto and up to Earth size, may lurk in the dark between the Kuiper belt and the Oort Cloud.

      If any of these is ever found, our definition of "planet" may change again.

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: No persuasion possible

      The Earth has failed to clear away that pesky Moon. Mars is being trailed by several rocks. Saturn, duh.

      I'm somewhat saddened by organizations that make a move based on incorrect info, backtrack on the precise name, and then can't even come up with a self consistent definition. Major display of FAIL going on there.

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: No persuasion possible

      "...still smaller than Earth's moon, at 3,475 km – so sorry, Pluto fans, you still won't persuade academic astronomy to upgrade it back to being called a planet."

      Ganymede and Titan (moons) are both larger than Mercury (planet).

      Inconsistent twaddle. Almost as bad as the Astrologers.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alien

    It was a planet when I went to school

    So, in my mind it shall always be thus!

    I'm happy in my own ignorance.

    : )

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: It was a planet when I went to school

      But the Soviet Union existed, too.

      Granted some of the politicians and think-tankers still think it exists....

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: It was a planet when I went to school

        Well the dwarf Putin surely thinks it still exists.... the Soviet Union, not planet Pluto...

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: It was a planet when I went to school

          Well the dwarf Putin surely thinks it still exists

          I think you went for western "reality creation" hook, line and sinker.

  4. Kharkov
    Gimp

    Larry Niven already told us where the kings crown is...

    In 'World of Ptavvs', Niven had a star-system-controlling artefact (a telepathy-expanding) helmet that, once worn, would allow the wearer to telepathically dominate every being in the star system.

    Lost on Pluto - with a neat twist which makes landing to get it a bit tricky (I wonder if that still applies?) - was the MacGuffin of the story.

    So, King of the TNO's, with a legend of a crown already in place.

    The not-first one to Pluto's a... telepathically-dominated human being!

  5. stizzleswick

    Nah, the layering of frozen gases that allowed the planet-sized catastrophe in the short story seems highly unlikely at this time. Mind, Niven was writing from the state of knowledge at the time.

  6. Jernau

    A Certain Age

    For those of us of a certain age, Pluto will always be a planet....

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: A Certain Age

      Stop it, gramps!

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: A Certain Age

        In other news, arbitrary definition of "planet" is arbitrary. I prefer to define "planet" as "orbiting the sun but not as a moon of another planet" and "round" (reserving the right to exclude accidentally spherically shaped pebbles). I promise not to be bothered by whatever definition the boffins choose to agree upon as long as they leave me alone to use mine and that's that.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Questions Science Fails to Answer

      What's going to happen in pub quizzes now? Or games of Trivial Pursuit? You'll need to look up the printing date to know how many planets there are in the solar system. And then resort to saying things like, "well it was 9 when I was at school."

    3. x 7

      Re: A Certain Age

      For those of a certain age, Pluto will always be a dog

  7. Dave Ross

    Always was a planet, always will be.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      I said, stop it!!

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        "I said, stop it!!"

        BWHAHAHA... MAKE ME.

  8. billat29

    In my day we ad a proper solar system. 9 planets, a bunch of asteroids and comets.

    Not loike these modern solar systems you gets these days with all them politically correct TNOs.

    And rings. Only Jupiter ad rings, now every bleedin upstart gassy giant got one.

    And canals.

    Where's that amanfrommars chappie? What appened to your canals then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You mean Saturn?

      1. billat29

        I was thinking of Uranus

        (Opportunity for statutory joke, thanks)

        1. AbelSoul
          Trollface

          Re: I was thinking of Uranus

          Well, that's hardly surprising; it's a cracker and you're not made of stone.

  9. Sealand
    Pint

    Whatever we call it, I don't think Pluto or any possible dwellers there really cares.

    Unless of course its real name is Krikkit, and we've just given up our position ...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Re : we've just given up our position

      You forget that Plutonians have been watching our TV shows for the past century now.

      I think they are quite up to date on our position, although I'm not sure what they might think of the Kardashians.

  10. Steven 1
    Coat

    IAU broke the mnemonic....

    My Vicar Eats My Jam Sandwiches Under Neverending Protest!

  11. Tromos

    For me, Pluto is a planet, and any dwarf scientists who disagree can just bugger off.

    1. Fink-Nottle

      It's more disconcerting that these so-called scientists describe themselves as astro-geologists, as Pluto is clearly neither star-like nor earth-like.

  12. Shrimpling

    Whats Wrong with being a Dwarf?

    For anybody complaining about it being a dwarf planet can you explain what is wrong with being a dwarf?

    Please use words you would be willing to say to Warwick Davis's face

    1. Grikath

      Re: Whats Wrong with being a Dwarf?

      well there's the mandatory beard (especially now that those damned hipsters hijacked the look..) , the chafing chainmail underwear, and the eternal doubt whether to wear a pickaxe or an axe to the pub...

  13. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    There are no dwarf planets, only dwarf intellects.

    Scientists! Stop arguing nomenclature and start getting us there so we can have a close look in person.

  14. John 104

    Brontosaurus.

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