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Join date : 2010-10-10

PostSubject: Dwarf planet   Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:31 pm

A dwarf planet, as defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), is a celestial body orbiting a star that is massive enough to be spherical as a result of its own gravity but has not cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals and is not a satellite.[1][2] More explicitly, it has to have sufficient mass to overcome its compressive strength and achieve hydrostatic equilibrium.

The term dwarf planet was adopted in 2006 as part of a three-way categorization of bodies orbiting the Sun,[3] brought about by an increase in discoveries of trans-Neptunian objects that rivaled Pluto in size, and finally precipitated by the discovery of an even larger object, Eris.[4] This classification states that bodies large enough to have cleared the neighbourhood of their orbit are defined as planets, while those that are not massive enough to be rounded by their own gravity are defined as small solar system bodies. Dwarf planets come in between. The definition officially adopted by the IAU in 2006 has been both praised and criticized, and has been disputed by scientists such as Alan Stern.[5][6]

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