The removal of Pluto as a planet was an emotional blow to anyone with a heart. It was a devastating betrayal leaving many asking questions that no one wanted to hear the answers to. While there were many reasons behind Pluto’s status change, the ultimate culprit is the dwarf planet Eris. Eris was discovered in 2003 as another object orbiting the Sun. While of comparable size to Pluto, it orbits at a much greater distance through the Kuiper Belt. The similarities between Eris and Pluto forced scientists to confront Pluto’s issues that they were previously able to ignore, or risk including Eris and other similar dwarf planets or trans-Neptunian objects as planets in the Solar System.
Not too much is actually known about Eris yet. We can guess that it is structured relatively similar to Pluto, and it does have some atmosphere in the parts of its orbit that it is warm enough for the atmosphere to exist. Interestingly, it was named after Eris the Greek goddess of discord, a fitting name because it caused disagreement about the status of Pluto. In addition, its one moon is named Dysnomia, Eris’s demon daughter. While the problems with Pluto’s planetary status were known before Eris, the discovery of this new dwarf planet was the catalyst leading to Pluto’s ultimate demise.