14 September 2006

Welcome, Eris and Dysnomia!

You may have noticed all the fuss recently when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) demoted Pluto, leaving us with only eight "planets" (Mercury, Venus, Terra, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) in our solar system instead of the nine we're used to. Pluto, as a "dwarf planet," has now been given a number, like other objects with well-determined orbits: 134340.

In addition, the dwarf planet 2003 UB313 (commonly - and unfortunately - known as "Xena") has been given a number, and both it and its satellite (commonly known as "Gabrielle") have been given official names. So say hello to 136199 Eris and to Dysnomia.

Read about it here. Or here, or here.

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