solar system

2000 EB 173

Astronomers have found a mini Pluto that's neither a moon nor a planet. It's a plutino -- an object that orbits the Sun in the same amount of time as Pluto, but is too small to be called a planet.


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2000 EB173

Astronomers have found a mini Pluto that's neither a moon nor a planet. It's a plutino -- an object that orbits the Sun in the same amount of time as Pluto, but is too small to be called a planet.

2000 EB 173 orbit

2000 EB173 Statistics

MPC designation 38628 Huya
Alternate name 2000 EB173
Minor planet category TNO Plutino[1][2]

Physical characteristics

Dimensions; 1,200.1,600 km 1,600 km
Dimensions 480±50 km[4]
532±25 km[5]
Mass 6.5 × 1019–1.8 × 1020 kg[6]
Mean density 2.0? g/cm³
Equatorial surface gravity 0.12–0.15? m/s²
Escape velocity 0.23–0.28? km/s
Sidereal rotation
period ? d
Albedo ~0.05[5]
0.11±0.02[4]
Temperature ~44 K
Spectral type (moderately red) B-V=1.00; V-R=0.65[7]
Apparent magnitude 19.3 (opposition)[8]
Absolute magnitude (H) 4.7[3]
Angular diameter 0.024" (max)[9]

The object, 2000 EB173, was found in March using data collected by a 39-inch (1-meter) telescope at the CIDA Observatory in Venezuela. The space rock is estimated at about one quarter the size of Pluto and joins a club of more than 300 other "trans-Neptunian objects," small bodies that orbit the Sun beyond Neptune.

2000 eb173

"This is the biggest and brightest that has been seen so far," said Charles Baltay, a Yale University physicist who headed up the investigation. Baltay and his co-authors plan to report their finding in Astronomical Journal Letters.

"We believe that this thing has been orbiting since the formation of the solar system. So it's the primordial stuff, and it's bright enough that we can study it in detail."

The object appears to be dark red, suggesting it is covered with ancient organic chemistry, Baltay said, but more data will reveal better facts.

The size of the object has been estimated but it actually could range from 185 to 435 miles (300 to 700 kilometers), said Gareth William's, associate director of the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center (MPC). All discoveries of this type are made to the MPC in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"We can't see it directly," he said of EB173, but astronomers estimated its size based on its brightness. The object orbits the Sun every 240 years.

An observer with a 12- to 16-inch (305- to 405-millimeter) telescope could locate the object but it's invisible to the normal sight or even binoculars.

Image Of Planetoid-EB173

Planetoid-EB173

There are two primary places for asteroids in our solar system; the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter is home to some 40,000 to 50,000 objects and a belt that extends beyond Neptune's orbit.

The discovery of EB173 brings back the argument of whether Pluto, discovered after a long search by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, ought to be called a planet, William's said. "If it were discovered today it would get a minor planet designation," he said -- that is -- not a planet

Plutino's orbit is similar to that of Pluto -- tilted with respect to the rest of the planets, and not very circular.

Planetary Orbit Of 2000 EB 173

2000 EB 173 orbit

Orbital characteristics

Epoch: December 31, 2006 (JD 2454100.5)
Aphelion: 7627.387 Gm (50.986 AU)
Perihelion: 4269.292 Gm (28.538 AU)
Semi-major axis: 5948.340 Gm (39.762 AU)
Eccentricity: 0.282
Orbital period: 91580.694 d (250.73 a)
Average orbital speed: 4.63 km/s
Mean anomaly: 348.506°
Inclination: 15.463°
Longitude of ascending node: 169.296°
Argument of perihelion: 67.637°

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