Saturday, January 5, 2008

World of Strife

Ok, just the other day I told you something about Eris, but today, January 5th, is the third anniversary of its discovery so I'm posting a bit about that event. Mike Brown (Caltech), Chad Trujillo (Gemini Observatory), and David Rabinowitz (Yale University) were and still are running a search for slow moving (i.e. distant) objects in the outer solar system. The search makes use of the 161-megapixel QUEST camera on the Palomar Observatory's 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope. Data gets transferred from Palomar to Pasadena via the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN).

Dr. Brown and his team actually collected the data for the discovery on October 21, 2003, well over a year before the big find. They fine tuned their software, which culls through the vast amount of data for moving objects. They were in the midst of a reanalysis of the data when this bright, slow moving object turned up.

Can you spot it in these discovery images? It is the moving object just above center on the left side of the image.

The world was officially called 2003UB313, but it was given the nickname of "Xena" - A nice name starting with "X" as in "planet X" or even the Roman numeral "X" for 10, as in the tenth planet.

An official name couldn't come until it status as a planet, Kuiper Belt Object or other was sorted out. It wasn't until 2006 that the International Astronomical Union gave the object its "dwarf planet" status and it was allowed to get a name.

So what does Eris mean?
From Greek mythology, Eris is the goddess of warfare and strife. It is a fitting name as there was plenty of strife in the astronomical community over this world.


Edward said...

Wow! Three years ago. That discovery caused quite a stir.

Looking forward to the next discovery.

santosh said...

First of all, A very happy New Year to everyone and their families.
Really appreciate your idea, Scott. Infact, your blog has given a great start for the new year ! Looking forward for more interesting news !

Scott Kardel said...

I am glad that you have enjoyed the blog so far santosh. :)