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  • Elizabeth Cocking

Did you know?...Dwarf planets

So, what is a dwarf planet …… Dwarf planets share many of the same characteristics as planets with one significant difference … a planet has cleared other objects in the area of its orbit while a dwarf planet has not.

At present there are 5 officially recognised dwarf planets in our solar system – Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris. However, there are many more candidates for dwarf planet status like Gonggong, Orcus, Quaoar, Sedna, and Salacia. There may be as many as 10,000.

Image below Credits: Konkoly Observatory/András Pál, Hungarian Astronomical Association/Iván Éder, NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

With the exception of Ceres, which is located in the asteroid belt, the other dwarf planets are found in the outer solar system.

Just like planets, dwarf planets also have natural satellites. Pluto has five moons, Haumea has two, and Eris has one. Makemake has one provisional moon. Ceres is the only dwarf planet without a known moon.

Of the dwarf planets only two have been visited by space probes. In 2015 NASA’s Dawn and New Horizons missions reached Ceres and Pluto respectively.

Haumea has the strangest shape among the five dwarf planets. Because of its fast rotation, it has a unique egg-like shape.


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