Out for the term "planet"?
A 19-strong team of experts proposes using the term "planet" only in connection with a more descriptive adjective. The commission set up by the International Astronomical Union last year aims to settle the dispute over how newly discovered Pluto-scale rocks are named. The vague term should rather be replaced by various classes of "planetary objects".
It was not until August that the discussion flared up again when scientists made a planetary claim for the object 2003 UB313 orbiting near Pluto - after all, it was larger than its neighbor, according to the discoverers around Michael Brown from the California Institute of Technology. However, its planetary title has long been disputed.
The expert team proposes that UB313 and Pluto be referred to as the Trans-Neptunian planets - that is, among the group of larger objects orbiting the Sun beyond Neptune. Then there are the earth-like planets and the gas giants in our solar system.
However, the proposal has met with opposition even among researchers. For example, Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder doesn't think it makes sense to name the celestial bodies after their whereabouts. It is more informative to refer to the physical properties of the objects, as is usual with stars. For example, Pluto and UB313 would be "Ice Dwarfs".
If the international astronomical community accepts the proposal, this does not mean that the new language will become established, warns Jacqueline Mitton, author of popular scientific astronomy books. After all, there are still astrophysicists who classify stars as young and "image"-a terminology that was officially abandoned fifty years ago. alt="
The term "planet" refers in a narrower sense to larger celestial bodies in our solar system that glow in the reflected sunlight. In a broader sense, this also includes all other non-luminous celestial bodies that orbit a star. The name comes from the Greek word plánetes, which means something like "the wandering ones" or "the wanderer". Planets used to be called wandering stars.