S.N Hasan, Professor at MANUU (Maulana Azad National Urdu University) and a Life time member of ‘Astronomical Society of India’ was at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) to deliver a distinguish lecture on “Pluto resurrected; Mission New Horizons” at CIS organized by Junior Science Club, UoH on August 24, 2015.
A student asked Dr. Hasan ‘Is it merely out of curiosity that we need know the solar system? Mr. Hasan said that we needn’t necessarily know these only to quench the thirst of our curiosity but, to know that we are not alone in the Universe. Knowing about our basic existence by questioning ‘How did we and our home get created?’ he explained.
He said that because of this serious curiosity we found out that there are innumerable stars out of planetary system and innumerable conditions where life can evolve.
When a student described the demotion of ‘Pluto’ from the planetary system as‘Discrimination’ from other planets by a judgment of a single person. Answering to him Dr. Hasan said “Not one person, it’s done by group of astronomers. They decided that if, we didn’t put that criterion humans will be in a perplexed situation as there are thousands of asteroids and may become planets” he added.
Dr. Hasan said that Pluto, a dwarf planet, was once classified among the aforementioned eight as solar system planet. However it is now considered to be one of the largest known members of the Kuiper Belt – a collection of icy bodies on the outer fringes of the solar system. “Pluto was demoted from its planetary status in 2006 when a body of scientists decided a formalized for the term ‘Planet’ ” he added.
According to the International Astronomical Union’s definition, a planet is a celestial body that
(a)Is in Orbit around the sun
(b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium(nearly round)
(c) Has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.
Dr. Hasan said “Because Pluto is part of the Kuiper Belt, and therefore has not met the third criterion; it is no longer considered a planet. Instead, it is classified as a dwarf planet”.
He said that as Pluto was considered as dwarf planet that shouldn’t act as a deterrent to ignore it. “Because Pluto has challenged several of our basic views on how solar system was formed, how it exists and where is it headed? If collisions that can form Pluto can occur, then our present confidence on the serenity of the Solar System will be clearly shaken” he averred.
If Pluto has really been around from the birth of the Solar System, then clearly, it has properties we never thought it could possess he explained.
– CH Sandeep Manohar, Department of Communication