An asteroid turns out to be a planet


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Astronomers have studied one of the asteroids within the Solar System and come to the conclusion that the celestial body can be ‘upgraded’ to the status of a planet. After several stages of deformation due to a powerful impact, Hygiea (the asteroid’s name) became spherical. Thus, it approached the category of dwarf planets.
To be classified as a planet, an object needs to meet four requirements set by the International Astronomical Union. A planet is in orbit around our system’s main star — the Sun; it has ‘cleared the neighborhood’ around its orbit; it is not a satellite of another planet, and it has sufficient mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium (a spherical shape is perfect for it).
There are many objects in outer space that meet the first three requirements, while few comply with all four requirements. Hygiea fits the requirements along with trans-Neptunian objects Eris, Haumea, Pluto, Makemake, and Ceres.
Using the Very Large Telescope scientists have found out that the asteroid is spherical. Previously, it was believed that the object was more oblong. Now there is every reason to reclassify it as a dwarf planet with a diameter of over 430km and a rotation period of 13.8 hours.

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