Pluto says that it almost told the truth to Voyager 2 in 2007, when the probe was a mere 119 million miles away, but the timing just didn’t seem right.
“But now I’m ready,” Pluto said on Thursday, according to messages relayed from the New Horizons probe. “Ready to tell the Universe who I really am.”
NASA administrators were among the first to applaud Pluto’s decision, saying that it’s never easy for a planet to go through such a big transition.
“It’s not for us to judge celestial bodies,” said Dana Bolden, the agency’s chief sensitivity trainer. “How would we feel if giant Jupiter, for example, started referring to Earth as a moon? We wouldn’t like it at all.”
Pluto says that it doesn’t care how conservative astronomers might respond, because it has always known who it really was.
“Even out here in the darkest reaches of the Solar System, I felt like my core was not all solid and cold,” Pluto said. “No. There’s something alive inside of me, something hot and glowing. I’m sure of it.”
“I’m a star,” it added. “Because I shine.”
Pluto and ally celestial bodies are now putting pressure on the International Astronomical Union to officially change the definition of a star. The criteria currently include being mostly composed of gas and plasma, and emitting radiation from nuclear fusion.
The new definition, says one source, will include the words “possessing these traits, or feeling like one possess these traits.”