Poor Pluto: More downsizing for the dwarf planet

Demoted again: Pluto's ego took another blow this week when it was discovered that dwarf planet Eris is slightly bigger than the former "official" planet. (Drawing courtesy of NASA)
Demoted again: Pluto's ego took another blow this week when it was discovered that dwarf planet Eris is slightly bigger than the former "official" planet. (Drawing courtesy of NASA)
I guess you could call Pluto the Rodney Dangerfield of our solar system…it just doesn’t get any respect.

Last summer Pluto got demoted from an official planet in our solar system and placed in a new category of heavenly bodies: dwarf planets. Now with more research, it’s been determined that Pluto isn’t even among the largest of the dwarves.

Eris is the cause of all of this turmoil of Pluto’s status. That dwarf planet was discovered to have similarities to Pluto and led astronomers to relook at how they define planets. Pluto and Eris were both bumped into the dwarf plant status. Now, the size of Eris has been measured: a diameter of 1,490 to 1,860 miles. Pluto’s diameter is a shade smaller: 1,430 miles.

All of these details came to light after astronomers discovered a moon, Dysnomia, circling Eris. Judging from the speed that Dysonmia has spinning around Eris, researchers have determined that Eris is about 27 percent heavier than Pluto as well. Both dwarf planets are made up primarily of rock and ice.

Don’t worry about any physical effects from this growing dwarf planet rivalry. Eris’ orbit is about twice as far away from the sun as Pluto’s. They’re a quite safe distance apart from each other.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

How do the scientists measure the diameter of a planet or the distance to a planet?

posted on Tue, 06/26/2007 - 12:47pm
Robert's picture
Robert says:

Dunno how the diameter is measured but distances are expressed by 'center-to-center' or 'pole-to-pole' from one celestial body to another.

When comparing 'surface-to-surface' to 'pole-to-pole' that ammounts to a difference of 8,000 miles in expressing the distance from Earth to moon or more than 2 light seconds between Earth and Sun.

posted on Sat, 12/20/2008 - 2:05pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

1 How they could know that these heavenly bodies are planets ?

posted on Wed, 06/27/2007 - 5:44am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Scientists really don't know. They are just assuming, because they have never been to most of the pllanets. They guess, depending on the physical properties of the planet that they can see.

posted on Thu, 06/28/2007 - 9:13am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

With Eris, they can measure the speed that it's moon travels around it. That speed is dependent on how much gravitation force Eris exerts, and that's dependent on how large the Eris. Through some formulas, astrnomers figure out the diameter of the planet, or dwarf planet in this case.

posted on Wed, 06/27/2007 - 10:34am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Pluto has recently been upgraded -- it is now known as a "plutoid." An entire class of heavenly bodies has been named in its honor. That should take some of the sting out of its earlier demotion.

posted on Thu, 06/12/2008 - 9:25am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I heard about this, but it sounds like Pluto fans are still a little sore.

Maybe we could refer to the original plutoid, Pluto, as "Plutoid Supreme," or something. That sounds sort of awesome.

posted on Thu, 06/12/2008 - 9:30am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Sounds like a new menu offering from Taco Bell, actually. One you will find yourself buying in a haze at 2am only to deeply regret it later...

posted on Thu, 06/12/2008 - 10:01am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

The Plutoid Supreme will be bought at 2:20 am, to be precise, and you will regret buying it by 2:55am. And on Sunday morning you will know you have done something very, very wrong, but you won't quite be able to pinpoint what that was.

Yes, Pluto will once again get the dignity it deserves.

posted on Thu, 06/12/2008 - 10:13am
Robert's picture
Robert says:

Pluto doesn't deserve the humiliation that has been heaped upon it and Pluto should be re-instated immediately as a full fledged planet of our solar system with full rights and benefits.

Pluto is the ninth REAL planet of our solar system and has three moons to support.

All those wannabe planets that have been discovered since deployment of the Hubble are just a bunch of rocks in haphazard orbits around most anything that can hold them in a slippery gravitational grip. There are so many wannabe so-called 'planets' beyond Pluto that astronomers don't give them name but code numbers like inventory in a auto parts store.

Pluto represents order.

Beyond Pluto's orbit from the Kuiper belt to the Oort Cloud there is utter chaos and confusion.

Pluto is the outpost marking the boundary of an orderly well run solar system from utter celestial confusion.

Pluto should be immediately re-instated as a full fledged planet and respected member of our solar system.

Furthermore: The IAU should issue formal apology to Pluto and make Pluto's re-instatement retroactive to August 24, 2006.

posted on Sat, 12/20/2008 - 1:58pm
Robert's picture
Robert says:

I'm a fan and supporter of the planet Pluto and lobby for it's re-instatement as a full fledged planet of our solar system with full rights and benefits.

I have appealed for Pluto's re-instatement to my Congressman and US Senators as well as the IAU, UN and his holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

I have founded a non-profit organization known as the 'Friends Of Pluto' (FOP) to lobby for and represent the interests of Pluto.

Recent studies I've done of the region of space between the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud has convinced me that Pluto is an outpost and guardian of an orderly solar system. Beyond Pluto is chaos and confusion where celestial bodies measuring from 100km to 1,000km have been discovered. Some have been discovered several times by different astronomers and are cataloged like auto parts rather than given names.

Pluto, the ninth REAL planet of our solar system represents order on the fringe of utter chaos.

Pluto should be given full planethood for what it represents.

posted on Sat, 12/27/2008 - 1:54pm

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