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Astronomical Object
    (January 5, 2005- )
    Discovered by a team at Mount Palomar Observatory headed by Mike Brown
    Diameter: 1,500 miles, 4% larger than Pluto
    Distance from the Sun: 3.5 billion to 9.1 billion miles
    Length of Year: 557 years
    Natural Satellites: One, Dysnomia
    Surface is covered in methane ice
    Because it is larger than Pluto, it sparked a debate among astronomers about whether it should be classified as a planet or Pluto's status should be demoted.
    It and Pluto were officially designated 'dwarf planets,' leaving the solar system with only eight planets (2006).
    It quickly made a lot of astronomy textbooks out of date.
    It was originally named Xena and its moon was originally named Gabrielle, but the names weren't accepted by the International Astronomical Union.
    It was first photographed in 2003, but not noticed because it was moving slower than the cutoff point of the image-searching software.
    After the discovery of Sedna, Brown's team reanalyzed the data with a lower limit on the movement speed.
    It was named Eris, after the Greek goddess of discord, to reflect the debate over the object's nature in astronomical circles.
    Eris's natural satellite was named to pay tribute to the original name of Xena: Dysnomia was a demon of lawlessness, and Xena was played by Lucy Lawless.
    It is the largest object orbiting the sun discovered since Neptune in 1846.
    Despite its distance, it is bright enough to be seen with some amateur telescopes.

Credit: C. Fishel

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