June 12, 2008 / 2:18 AM / 11 years ago

Pluto gets a new name: plutoid

Pluto is seen from the Hubble Space Telescope in a handout photo. REUTERS/Handout

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pluto, demoted from planet status in 2006, got a consolation prize on Wednesday — it and other dwarf planets like it will be called plutoids.

The International Astronomical Union said in a statement that its executive committee meeting in Oslo, Norway, decided on the term.

Plutoids will be defined as celestial bodies in orbit around the Sun farther away than Neptune. They must have near-spherical shape, and must not have swept up other, smaller objects in their orbits, said the organization, which names newly discovered planets and other celestial bodies.

The two known and named plutoids are Pluto and Eris, but astronomers expect to find more.

Another dwarf planet, Ceres, does not merit the plutoid designation because it is in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Reporting by Maggie Fox

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