Dwarf planets of the solar system: what they are, what they are and how they differ

Dwarf planets of the solar system: what they are, what they are and how they differ

Dwarf Planets are one of the least known concepts of astronomy. We explain what they are, what they are and how...

Dwarf Planets are one of the least known concepts of astronomy. We explain what they are, what they are and how they differ.

When small, we received the first notions of science, we introduce the concepts of solar system and planets. We show how the universe goes beyond what our eyes see every day. and make us see that it is possible that, light-years away, there are other similar forms of life to a greater or lesser extent to ours.

But the space is formed by more elements that planets. There are stars of different types, such as stars and called dwarf planets. The first, in varying degrees, studying at some point, but the latter concept does not follow the same pattern, with something treated in a very superficial way.

What is a dwarf planet? What differentiates a dwarf planet in a “normal”? Planet

The dwarf planets, essentially and as its name implies, they are smaller than the other planets planets. of ¿How small? Without getting into specific numbers, they are at an intermediate point between “normal” planets and other asteroids.


The above it is the basic standard deduction and explanation. And even partially true, is not the yardstick by which it is classified as a planet to “dwarf planet”. The criteria, however, are:

  • It is in orbit around the Sun That is, revolves around this


  • Its mass is enough for its own gravity to overcome rigid body strength In other words:. has spherical or near spherical shape

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  • Not satellite of a planet. No revolves around another star other than the sun.

  • has failed to clean up the neighborhood of its orbit. When a star reaches a certain level of development, it influences incisively in the stars around him, either attracting them, or by turning them away around him. This is not the case of the dwarf planets, causing relatively independent there are other stars around its orbit.

Of these four criteria, only difference between dwarf planets from other planets is the ultimate. The “normal” planets have sufficient capacity to clear their orbital neighborhoods, while dwarf planets

As curiosity. Transneptunian those dwarf planets (which are beyond Neptune’s orbit, with reference the Sun) are known as Plutoid.

What are the dwarf planets of the solar system and what characterizes them?

Total five. Their names are Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Makemake and Haumea. These are its main features:

  • Ceres Discovered in 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi.. It lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It was considered as a comet, a planet and finally as a dwarf planet. Its mass is one third of the total asteroid belt. Its diameter is about 950 x 932 km, roughly the distance between Gibraltar and Gijon (Spain through vertically). It is a planet with water inside a finding made by the European Space Agency during the last year 2014.

  • Pluto. Discovered in Clyde William Tombaugh by 1930. It is a dwarf planet located very close to the orbit of Neptune. For many years a planet of the Solar System was considered, but after the General Assembly Prague 2006 became categorized as a dwarf planet. Pluto has a diameter of 2370 km, more than a sixth of the diameter of planet Earth. Like Ceres, it has a crust of ice water and a blue atmosphere.

  • Eris. Along with Makemake, is one of the more recently discovered dwarf planets. Its diameter is slightly smaller than Pluto, with about 2326 km. It belongs to the group known as “Plutoid” so that its orbit beyond Neptune. Belongs to the so-called “Kuiper Belt,” a set of bodies orbiting comet around the sun at a distance of between 30 and 100 AU.

  • Makemake. was discovered in March 2005, it is another Plutoid, and is also one of the largest objects in the Kuiper belt. Its diameter is approximately 1420 km, just over half that of Pluto.

  • Haumea. Like the previous three, is located in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune’s orbit (thus it is considered a Plutoid). It was discovered in 2003 by Jose Luiz Ortiz Moreno at the Sierra Nevada Observatory (Spain). Its radius of 1300-1900 km, making it a planet with an elliptical shape.

In the Kuiper Belt existence of about 200 potential dwarf planets are expected.

In addition to these dwarf planets, there is a group known as “potential dwarf planets”, which are not categorized as dwarf planets but are under observation for possible inclusion in the future. There are an estimated 200 dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt (in the outer solar system) and up to 10,000 in a distant region.

Why Pluto came to be considered a dwarf planet?

The reclassification suffered Pluto in 2006 was not without controversy. The main reason to be argued that the decision is not meet the fourth condition of a planet. clean neighborhoods achieve orbit and influence the stars around you Many scientists disagreed at the time and, today, the debate remains open – especially after the discovery of the New Horizons probe, which has shown that Pluto has five satellites and an atmosphere, which itself would have sufficient capacity to influence the path the stars around it.


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