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TOPIC: 2003UB313 / The Tenth Planet


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Eris
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Eris_264
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Keck II Telescope image of Dwarf Planet Eris and its satellite Dysnomia, the most distant objects ever detected in the solar system at the time of their discovery. Dysnomia (right) was discovered using the W. M. Keck Observatory on September 10, 2005 (UT).
Credit: W. M. Keck Observatory


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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has teamed up with the W. M. Keck Observatory to precisely measure the mass of Eris, the largest member of a new class of dwarf planets in our solar system. Eris is 1.27 times the mass of Pluto, formerly the largest member of the Kuiper Belt of icy objects beyond Neptune.

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Die-hard Pluto fans still seeking redemption for their demoted planet have cause for despair this week. New data shows that the dwarf planet Eris is 27 percent more massive than Pluto, thereby strengthening the decree last year that there are eight planets in the solar system and a growing list of dwarf planets.
According to Mike Brown, the discoverer of Eris, and his graduate student Emily Schaller, the data confirms that Eris weighs 16.6 billion trillion kilograms. They know this because of the time it takes Eris's moon, Dysnomia, to complete an orbit.

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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has teamed up with the W.M. Keck Observatory to precisely measure the mass of Eris, the largest member of a new class of dwarf planets in our solar system. Eris is 1.27 times the mass of Pluto, formerly the largest member of the Kuiper Belt of icy objects beyond Neptune.
Hubble observations in 2006 showed that Eris is slightly physically larger than Pluto. But the mass could only be calculated by observing the orbital motion of the moon Dysnomia around Eris. Multiple images of Dysnomia's movement along its orbit were taken by Hubble and Keck.

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Poor Pluto just keeps getting downgraded.
The beleaguered former planet has been dwarfed again by a new study that finds its neighbour Eris is significantly bigger.

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The Discovery of Eris
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In 2005, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology and his team discovered a large body in the outer solar system. It was not the first distant object that had been found in the Kuiper Belt -- that region encircling our solar system is composed of hundreds of icy objects. But it was the largest known Kuiper Belt object, just beating out Pluto in terms of size, and so their discovery was heralded as “the tenth planet.”
Brown’s discovery, now named “Eris,” has since been demoted by the International Astronomical Union to a “dwarf planet,” along with the former ninth planet, Pluto. This re-categorization came about partly because scientists think we will discover many planet-sized globes in the Kuiper Belt. Recent discoveries of many unusual extrasolar planets in other solar systems also raised questions about what should and shouldn’t be called a planet.

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Title: Time series photometry of the dwarf planet ERIS (2003 UB313)
Authors: Giovanni Carraro (Padova), Michele Maris (Trieste), Daniel Bertin (UChile), M. Gabriela Parisi (UChile)

The dwarf planet Eris (2003 UB313, formerly known also as ''Xena'') is the largest KBO up to now discovered. Despite being larger than Pluto and bearing many similarities with it, it has not been possible insofar to detect any significant variability in its light curve, preventing the determination of its period and axial ratio. We attempt to assess the level of variability of the Eris light curve by determining its BVRI photometry with a target accuracy of 0.03 mag/frame in R and a comparable or better stability in the calibration. Eris has been observed between November 30th and December 5th 2005 with the Y4KCam on-board the 1.0m Yale telescope at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, Chile in photometric nights. We obtain 7 measures in B, 23 in V, 62 in R and 20 in I. Averaged B, V, and I magnitudes as colours are in agreement within approx 0.03 mag with measures from Rabinowitz et al. (2006) taken in the same nights. Night-averaged magnitudes in R shows a statistically significant variability over a range of about 0.05 ±0.01 mag. This can not be explained by known systematics, background objects or some periodical variation with periods less than two days in the light-curve. The same applies to B, V and to less extent to I due to larger errors. In analogy with Pluto and if confirmed by future observations, this ''long term'' variability might be ascribed to a slow rotation of Eris, with periods longer than 5 days, or to the effect of its unresolved satellite ''Dysnomea'' which may contribute for approx 0.02 mag to the total brightness.

erisoct06b
Eris position in the first (left panel) and last night (right panel). The area is 3.5 x 2.7 arcmin. North in down, East to the right. The arrow indicates Eris motion over the whole run.

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RE: 10th Planet
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Still mourning the loss of Pluto as a planet? Blame Caltech astronomer Michael Brown. His 2005 discovery of Eris, a new "planet" past Pluto, prompted other astronomers to redefine what makes a planet, and eventually rule out Pluto and Eris and settle on eight true planets. Pluto and Eris now have the new designation of dwarf planet.
Brown will present the 25th annual Bunyan Lecture at Kresge Auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m., telling the story of his discovery and explaining why it prompted changing the definition of a planet. His talk, titled "Pluto, Eris and the Dwarf Planets of the Solar System," is free and open to the public. The Astronomy Program in the Department of Physics will host the event.

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Eris
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Date       UT      R.A. (J2000) Decl.    Delta     r     El.    Ph.   V      
2006 09 15 000000 01 38 59.6 -05 13 36 96.001 96.854 147.9 0.3 18.7
2006 09 16 000000 01 38 57.8 -05 13 50 95.993 96.854 148.7 0.3 18.7
2006 09 17 000000 01 38 55.9 -05 14 03 95.985 96.854 149.6 0.3 18.7
2006 09 18 000000 01 38 54.1 -05 14 17 95.978 96.854 150.4 0.3 18.7
2006 09 19 000000 01 38 52.2 -05 14 30 95.971 96.854 151.3 0.3 18.7
2006 09 20 000000 01 38 50.2 -05 14 44 95.964 96.853 152.1 0.3 18.7
2006 09 21 000000 01 38 48.3 -05 14 57 95.958 96.853 153.0 0.3 18.7
2006 09 22 000000 01 38 46.3 -05 15 11 95.952 96.853 153.8 0.3 18.7
2006 09 23 000000 01 38 44.4 -05 15 24 95.945 96.853 154.6 0.3 18.7
2006 09 24 000000 01 38 42.4 -05 15 37 95.940 96.853 155.4 0.2 18.7
2006 09 25 000000 01 38 40.4 -05 15 51 95.934 96.853 156.2 0.2 18.7
2006 09 26 000000 01 38 38.3 -05 16 04 95.929 96.853 156.9 0.2 18.7
2006 09 27 000000 01 38 36.3 -05 16 17 95.924 96.852 157.7 0.2 18.7
2006 09 28 000000 01 38 34.2 -05 16 30 95.920 96.852 158.4 0.2 18.7
2006 09 29 000000 01 38 32.1 -05 16 43 95.915 96.852 159.2 0.2 18.7
2006 09 30 000000 01 38 30.0 -05 16 56 95.911 96.852 159.8 0.2 18.7
2006 10 01 000000 01 38 27.9 -05 17 09 95.907 96.852 160.5 0.2 18.7
2006 10 02 000000 01 38 25.8 -05 17 21 95.904 96.852 161.2 0.2 18.7
2006 10 03 000000 01 38 23.7 -05 17 34 95.901 96.852 161.8 0.2 18.7
2006 10 04 000000 01 38 21.5 -05 17 46 95.898 96.851 162.4 0.2 18.7
2006 10 05 000000 01 38 19.4 -05 17 59 95.895 96.851 162.9 0.2 18.7


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RE: 2003UB313 / The Tenth Planet
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Eris, the largest dwarf planet known, was discovered in an ongoing survey at Palomar Observatory's Samuel Oschin telescope by astronomers Mike Brown (Caltech), Chad Trujillo (Gemini Observatory), and David Rabinowitz (Yale University). We officially suggested the name on 6 September 2006, and it was accepted and announced on 13 September 2006. In Greek mythology, Eris is the goddess of warfare and strife. She stirs up jealousy and envy to cause fighting and anger among men. At the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the parents of the Greek hero Achilles, all the gods with the exception of Eris were invited, and, enraged at her exclusion, she spitefully caused a quarrel among the goddesses that led to the Trojan war. In the astronomical world, Eris stirred up a great deal of trouble among the international astronomical community when the question of its proper designation led to a raucous meeting of the IAU in Prague. At the end of the conference, IAU members voted to demote Pluto and Eris to dwarf-planet status, leaving the solar system with only eight planets.

The satellite of Eris has received the offical name Dysnomia, who in Greek mythology is Eris' daughter and the demon spirit of lawlessness. As Dysnomia is a bit of a mouthful, we tend to simply call the satellite Dy, for short.
As promised for the past year, the name Xena (and satellite Gabrielle) were simply placeholders while awaiting the IAU's decision on how an official name was to be proposed. As that process dragged on, however, many people got to know Xena and Gabrielle as the real names of these objects and are sad to see them change. We admit to some sadness ourselves. We used the names for almost two years now and are having a hard time switching. But for those who miss Xena, look for the obvious nod in the new name of the moon of Eris.

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Lecture Topic - The Discovery of "2003 UB313"
Dr. Michael Brown, Professor of Planetary Astronomy, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology.

This lecture will discuss the recently found 2003 UB313 (currently named at the time of printing), an object larger than Pluto and with an orbit at least twice as large. This lecture will fill us in on the latest thoughts about the new definition of a planet and how astronomers are continuing to find larger (and smaller) bodies in the outskirts of our solar system.

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