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Solar system to include 3 more planets

Our solar system will incorporate three more planets soon. Dozens more to come by the end of 2007: IAU.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2006 02:11 IST

The International Astronomical Union on Wednesday proposed enlarging the world's understanding of the solar system to encompass 12 planets instead of the traditional nine, changing what billions of schoolchildren have been taught for generations.

But experts said that by the end of 2007, there could be dozens more.

"There's a whole list of candidates knocking at the door," said Owen Gingerich, who chairs the planetary definition committee of the IAU, the arbiter of what is -and isn't- a planet.

"Don't get stuck on this number 12, because that won't last the whole of next year," he told reporters in Prague, where 2,500 of the world's leading astronomers are considering a new definition for planets. "By the end of next year, there's going to be more."

The IAU says it has a "watchlist" of about a dozen potential candidates for planethood. Most would be known as "plutons" under a proposed new definition that would distinguish between eight classical planets- Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune- and Pluto, along with objects like it in the far reaches of the solar system beyond Neptune.