A Pluto-like radius and a high albedo for the dwarf planet Eris from an occultation - Sorbonne Université Access content directly
Journal Articles Nature Year : 2011

A Pluto-like radius and a high albedo for the dwarf planet Eris from an occultation

R. Duffard
R. Behrend
  • Function : Author
A. Castro
I. de La Cueva
  • Function : Author
G. Muler
  • Function : Author
I. A. Steele
  • Function : Author
W. Reis
  • Function : Author

Abstract

The dwarf planet Eris is a trans-Neptunian object with an orbital eccentricity of 0.44, an inclination of 44 degrees and a surface composition very similar to that of Pluto. It resides at present at 95.7 astronomical units (1AU is the Earth-Sun distance) from Earth, near its aphelion and more than three times farther than Pluto. Owing to this great distance, measuring its size or detecting a putative atmosphere is difficult. Here we report the observation of a multi-chord stellar occultation by Eris on 6 November 2010 UT. The event is consistent with a spherical shape for Eris, with radius 1,163+/-6kilometres, density 2.52+/-0.05 grams per cm3 and a high visible geometric albedo, . No nitrogen, argon or methane atmospheres are detected with surface pressure larger than ~1nanobar, about 10,000 times more tenuous than Pluto's present atmosphere. As Pluto's radius is estimated to be between 1,150 and 1,200 kilometres, Eris appears as a Pluto twin, with a bright surface possibly caused by a collapsed atmosphere, owing to its cold environment. We anticipate that this atmosphere may periodically sublimate as Eris approaches its perihelion, at 37.8 astronomical units from the Sun.
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Dates and versions

hal-00637720 , version 1 (02-11-2011)

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Bruno Sicardy, J. L. Ortiz, M. Assafin, E. Jehin, A. Maury, et al.. A Pluto-like radius and a high albedo for the dwarf planet Eris from an occultation. Nature, 2011, 478, pp.493-496. ⟨10.1038/NATURE10550⟩. ⟨hal-00637720⟩
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