Feeds

Pluto demoted again

Not even biggest dwarf planet

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Pluto has suffered a further humiliation following its 2006 ejection from the league of planets - official demotion to "second biggest dwarf planet" status.

The bad news is that Pluto is actually smaller than recently-discovered Eris, Reuters reports. More exactly, Eris is 27 per cent more massive than the former planet, according to calculations by Michael Brown and Emily Schaller of the California Institute of Technology.

The pair used data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii to deliver this second blow to the lonely distant body. Although scientists had already determined that Eris's diameter (1,500 miles) exceeded that of Pluto (1,400 miles), they hadn't determined its mass.

Perhaps significantly, Brown "helped provoke the demotion" of Pluto, although he denied the latest findings were part of a campaign to discredit the US-discovered body. He told Reuters: "I don't think we're picking on Pluto. It's just the truth. It [Eris] just is more massive than Pluto. It's just the way it is."

Eris is appropriately named after an ancient Greek goddess of strife and discord. It's probably composed of rock and ice, as is Pluto, and follows a similar ellipical orbit round the sun.

Eris's slog around the solar system takes 560 years and carries it "anywhere from 3.5 billion miles to 10 billion miles from Earth", Brown said. Pluto does the same trip in a mere 250 years, and travels no further than five billion miles from our home planet, occasionally passing inside the orbit of Neptune. ®

Bootnote

We here at Vulture Central are starting to feel a bit sorry for Pluto, and have accordingly named it El Reg's "Most favourite non-descript orbiting object".

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.