Science & Tech no image

Published on May 15th, 2013 | by Yellow Magpie


Dwarf Planet Eris: The Largest Kuiper Belt Object

Dwarf Planet Eris And Its Moon Dysnomia Photo By NASA And Mike Brown

The dwarf planet Eris is a recent addition to the long list of Kuiper Belt Objects in our Solar System.

In early 2005 the trio of Chad Trujillo, David Rabinowitz and Michael Brown discovered the dwarf planet after comparing three different images taken over a three-hour period.

Physical Characteristics

Eris is roughly the same size as Pluto at over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 miles) across. It orbits the Sun at an average distance of 68 Astronomical Units (AU). One AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The dwarf planet is thought to be occasionally the farthest away from our star of all the Kuiper Belt objects.

It takes 560 Earth-years for a year on Eris to occur. A day on Eris is just longer than one on Earth at 25 hours.

Temperatures on Eris can plummet to as low as 30 degrees Kelvin (minus 240 degrees Celsius). Though it was originally thought that the dwarf planet Eris was larger than Pluto, it is now believed that they are roughly the size size. Eris’s discovery caused Pluto to be reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006.

Nevertheless, Eris is also much denser than Pluto. Observations indicate that Eris is comprised of a rocky core and an outer mantle of most likely frozen water. The dwarf planet is also one of the most reflective bodies in the Solar System with a surface brighter than newly fallen snow.

Dwarf Planet Eris And Moon Dysnomia Along With Other Kuiper Belt Objects Photo By Lexicon Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Dwarf Planet Eris’s Name

Before the dwarf planet Eris was properly named it was initially called Xena after the television series Xena: Warrior Princess. Eris was finally chosen in late 2006. It is named after the Greek goddess of chaos and disharmony.

The Origins Of Dwarf Planet Eris

Like all of the objects in the Kuiper Belt, Eris was formed from the left-over remnants of an accretion disc that surrounded the Sun in the early days of the Solar System. Lacking the requisite size to form a planet, Eris instead coalesced into a dwarf planet.

Eris’s Moon Dysnomia

Eris was discovered to have a moon in 2005. Dysnomia was named after the daughter of the Greek goddess Eris. The presence of the moon has allowed accurate measurements of the dwarf planet’s density to be calculated.

Highly Recommended Reading

Visit Wikipedia for more information on Eris_(dwarf_planet).

Check out Yellow Magpie’s The Kuiper Belt: Home To The Dwarf Planets for more insight into the frozen region of the Solar System.

You may also wish to take a gander at The Solar System And Beyond: A Guide To The Cosmos.

Cosmos is a highly recommended book. It contains large, full-page pictures of the asteroids and writing on the subject by the highly competent author, Giles Sparrow.
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access: Cosmos from here.
For those who live in Canada, you can obtain: Cosmos here.
For Germany: Cosmos.
For France: Cosmos.

About the Author

One Response to Dwarf Planet Eris: The Largest Kuiper Belt Object

  1. Pingback: Dysnomia: Dwarf Planet Eris's Moon

Back to Top ↑