Welcome to the second bit of a six-part-long series on all things space! Each month, a new article featuring a fascinating aspect of space will be uploaded. From asteroids to comets to stars – anything and everything will be included! Read carefully, for when the series comes to an end, there will be a SuperTrivia to test your knowledge on space. Happy Reading!
The world of science is constantly evolving and ever-changing. With technological advances, new pieces of evidence are coming to light. These are not only helping scientists uncover new wonders, but are also rectifying commonly-held misconceptions. Today, we will be discussing one such correction – the planetary status of Pluto.
Since 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has revoked the status of Pluto as a planet, saying that it does not fit the criteria. Instead, a new category is made – known as dwarf planets which is where Pluto fits. To understand why let us take a look at the position of Pluto in the solar system.
Pluto is located in the Kuiper Belt, which is home to many other small, frozen celestial bodies. Remember the asteroid belt we discussed last month? This one is quite similar to that.
In August 2006, the IUA changed the definition of a planet, saying that a planet is such an object that orbits the sun and has “cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.” This means that the gravity of a planet must be high enough to ensure no other objects are present around the area in which it orbits. Thanks to the presence of the bodies in the Kuiper Belt, this is not achieved.
Therefore, Pluto is not a real planet – at least not like Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are. This just goes to show how everyone, even the world’s best scientists, are prone to making mistakes. Humans sometimes tend to get proud of their knowledge and believe that the usage of telescopes and other technologies means their information will be accurate. Pluto is a reminder for all Muslims to remember that Allah alone is All-Knowing, and our knowledge is very limited compared to His. Only He is immune from imperfections.
By: Hamna Salman