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Pluto's curse named at last

The space rock formerly known as Xena

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The distant rock which prompted astronomers to strip Pluto of its planethood has been offically named Eris, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced Wednesday.

Eris is the Greek goddess of discord, hinting at the troubled ordination of the newly-discovered body.

One of Eris' discoverers, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, told AP the new name was "too perfect to resist." Eris' moon gets the monicker Dysnomia, after Eris' daughter - the spirit of lawlessness - in Greek mythology.

On its discovery last year Eris was provisionally dubbed Xena, after a mysterious "warrior princess" of American legend.

This was followed by news it is actually bigger than Pluto, which had enjoyed planet status since its own discovery by Clyde W. Tombaugh in 1930.

A recent meeting of the IAU in Prague decided Pluto can no longer be deemed a full planet. Together with Eris it will now bear the new term "dwarf planet". Ceres, an asteroid-like body between Mars and Jupiter joins Eris and Pluto as a dwarf planet.

As the farthest known object from the Sun in our Solar System, Eris orbits once every 560 Earth years, and has a surface temperature of -250°C. Reports Sir Richard Branson is taking bookings for the 2010 ski season are unconfirmed. ®

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