Astronomers Throw Pluto a Bone

Disgraced former planet gets its own category: 'plutoid'
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2008 11:46 AM CDT
This photo from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows the planet Pluto, left, and its moon Charon.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Pluto-fans depressed over the former planet's demotion may be cheered by a new decision that small, nearly spherical objects orbiting beyond Neptune will be called "plutoids." The new name has been sanctioned by the International Astronomical Union, the same organization that stripped Pluto of its planetary status 2 years ago, reports the BBC.

So far, there are two known plutoids: Pluto itself and Eris, a larger body that orbits much further out. Astronomers expect that more will be found in the icy outer reaches of the solar system. But not all are excited about the new nomenclature. "Plutoids or hemorrhoids, whatever they call it. This is irrelevant," says the chief investigator on a NASA Pluto mission.