Dwarf Planet Ceres in the Asteroid Belt Has Mysterious Bright Spots, Pyramid


NASA released a new flyover animation showing the mysterious surface of the dwarf planet Ceres.

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The diameter of Ceres is approximately 945 kilometers (587 miles), making it the largest of the minor planets within the orbit of Neptune.

In 1801, Ceres was first minor planet to be discovered. The orbits of about 670,000 minor planets have been archived at the Minor Planet Center as of 2015. Pluto was discovered in 1930.

As of 2009, the dwarf planets Pluto, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake are the only objects officially recognized as plutoids. However, seventy or more bodies expected to meet the definition. Formal recognition for the remaining bodies are expected at some time in the future.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) currently recognizes five dwarf planets: Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris; however there may be upto 200 dwarf planets discovered when the Kuiper belt is explored. The Kuiper belt is a region of the Solar System beyond the orbit of Neptune and all other planets.

Formerly classified as a planet, Pluto was discovered to be compositionally similar to many other objects of the Kuiper belt. Pluto’s inclusion in the Kuiper belt caused it to be reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006.

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