SpaceJibe

November 20, 2008

Signs of Weather Seen on Dwarf Planet

Filed under: Dwarf Planets, Kuiper Belt, Outer Solar System — bferrari @ 9:35 pm
This artist rendering shows the dwarf planet, Eris, with hte sun in the background. The discovery of Eris by Mike Brown of Caltech was announced on July 29, 2005. (NASA/JPL/Caltech)

This artist rendering shows the dwarf planet, Eris, with hte sun in the background. The discovery of Eris by Mike Brown of Caltech was announced on July 29, 2005. (NASA/JPL/Caltech)

Signs of Weather Seen on Dwarf Planet

By Jeanna Bryner
Senior Writer
posted: 18 November 2008
08:25 am ET

Strange weather on the icy dwarf planet Eris could be causing changes that scientists are now seeing at the methane-ice sufrace of this distant object in our outer solar system.

Eris is the largest known solar-system object beyond the orbit of Neptune. It is larger than Pluto, with a diameter of ranging somewhere between about 1,490 miles and 1,860 miles (2,400 km and 3,000 km).

A team of researchers examined data on Eris collected from the MMT Observatory in Arizona. They specifically looked at concentrations of methane ice based on light-reflection and absorption information.

Their results show possibly nitrogen ice mixed in with the methane ice covering Eris’ surface. And the relative amount of nitrogen ice increases with depth into the ice, they found.

Story continues after the jump: http://www.space.com/scienceandastronomy/081118-st-dwarf-planet.html

This illustration of the largest known Kuiper Belt Objects shows Xena slightly larger than Pluto. (NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

This illustration of the largest known Kuiper Belt Objects shows Xena (later to be called Eris) slightly larger than Pluto. (NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

Bob Ferrari writes:

Incidentally it was the discovery of this dwarf planet Eris that lead to the downgrading of Pluto from a planet down to a dwarf planet.

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