Strange Lives of Dwarf Planets

How the Universe Works

Astronomical sightings and scientific research have revealed our solar system is home to a multitude of tiny worlds called dwarf planets.

Strange Lives of Dwarf Planets takes us on a trip through our solar system and beyond to explore these planetary mass objects.

A dwarf planet is a planetary-mass object that is neither a true planet nor a natural satellite. That is, it is in direct orbit of a star, and is massive enough for its gravity to compress it into a hydrostatically equilibrious shape (usually a spheroid), but has not cleared the neighborhood of other material around its orbit.

The term dwarf planet was adopted in 2006 as part of a three-way categorization of bodies orbiting the Sun, brought about by an increase in discoveries of objects farther away from the Sun than Neptune that rivaled Pluto in size, and finally precipitated by the discovery of an even more massive object, Eris.

The exclusion of dwarf planets from the roster of planets by the IAU has been both praised and criticized. As of July 2008 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) recognizes five dwarf planets: Ceres in the asteroid belt, and Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris in the outer Solar System.

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Strange Lives of Dwarf Planets
  • Info
  • Release date27 Feb., 2018
  • Full runtime43 min
  • From the seriesHow the Universe Works episode 8, season 6
  • NarratorMike Rowe
  • Produced byDiscovery Channel, Pioneer Productions
  • Produced forThe Science Channel, Discovery Communications