dwarf planet

Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.

dwarf planet,

a nonluminous body of rock or gas that orbits the sun and has a rounded shape due to its gravity. Unlike a planetplanet
[Gr.,=wanderer], a large nonluminous body of rock, gas, or ice that orbits the sun or another star, has a rounded shape due to gravity, and has cleared its orbit of smaller objects.
..... Click the link for more information.
, a dwarf planet is not capable of clearing its orbit of smaller objects by collision, capture, or other means. The known dwarf planets in the solar systemsolar system,
the sun and the surrounding planets, natural satellites, dwarf planets, asteroids, meteoroids, and comets that are bound by its gravity. The sun is by far the most massive part of the solar system, containing almost 99.9% of the system's total mass.
..... Click the link for more information.
 include CeresCeres
, in astronomy, a dwarf planet, the first asteroid to be discovered. It was found on Jan. 1, 1801, by G. Piazzi. He took three distinct observations; on the basis of these the mathematician Gauss calculated Ceres' orbit with such accuracy that it was found one year later
..... Click the link for more information.
, PlutoPluto,
in astronomy, a dwarf planet and the first Kuiper belt, or transneptunian, object (see comet) to be discovered (1930) by astronomers. Pluto has an elliptical orbit usually lying beyond that of Neptune.
..... Click the link for more information.
, and ErisEris,
in astronomy, the largest known dwarf planet. Eris, whose highly eccentric elliptical orbit ranges from 38 AU to 97 AU and is inclined more than 44°, is the largest known object of the Kuiper belt (see comet), with a diameter (1,445 mi/2,317 km) slightly larger than
..... Click the link for more information.
. All of these are significantly smaller in size and mass than Mercury. Eris, which is slightly larger than Pluto, is the largest known dwarf planet. Except for Ceres, all known dwarf planets follow orbits that lie or take them beyond Neptune into the outer reaches of the solar system.

Ceres and Pluto have been considered planets at time in the past. The discovery of other bodies in the asteroidasteroid,
or minor planet,
small body orbiting the sun. More than 300,000 asteroids have been identified and cataloged; more than a million are believed to exist in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, with many more in the Kuiper belt
..... Click the link for more information.
 belt led to the reclassification of Ceres in the mid-19th cent. as an asteroid. The discovery of other bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune that were similar in size to Pluto led to the declassification of Pluto as a planet in 2006, when the International Astronomical Union adopted the classification of dwarf planet.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

dwarf planet

Any of the four terrestrial planets.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
The experts who support Stern and Bridenstine explained that the dwarf planet appeared with multilayered atmosphere, organic compounds, weather, moons, mountain ranges, potential liquid oceans and "plutoquakes."
Alan Stern, a planetary scientist and head of NASA's New Horizon mission, once blasted the IAU for its decision to demote Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet.
Finally, after over a year of debate, the decision was made to re-classify Pluto as a dwarf planet, due to new rules that said planets must 'clear the neighbourhood around its orbit.'
That would be the equivalent of an object a bit smaller than the dwarf planet Ceres moving at a speed about one-quarter as fast as the meteor pebbles and sand grains that burn up as "shooting stars" in Earth's atmosphere.
There's Eris, Haumea and Makem, officially named as dwarf planets.
All of these bodies are considered planets, while only Pluto and the category of bodies called "dwarf planets", are not considered planets.
The Dawn spacecraft had a very specific mission in mind to complete, and it was to study the largest objects in the asteroid belt - protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.
Dwarf planet or just a planet, it is still a planet, she noted.
Since the two first rendezvoused on March 6, 2015, the probe has come no closer than 385 kilometers to the dwarf planet's surface (S&T: Dec.
Previously, Pluto held the distinction as the ninth planet in our solar system before being demoted to a 'dwarf planet.'
Like an interplanetary parfait, the dwarf planet Ceres appears to have layers.