2007 OR10 deserves a better name

Image: Dwarf planets compared
An illustration lines up the solar system’s four largest dwarf planets, with 2007 OR10 in the middle of the pack. (Credit: Andras Pal / Konkoly Observatory, Ivan Eder / Hungarian Astronomical Association, NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI)

Observations made by NASA’s Kepler space telescope suggest that the icy world known as 2007 OR10 is bigger than astronomers thought –and that’s adding to the pressure to give the probable dwarf planet an official name, nine years after its discovery.

Some of the suggestions pick up on the recent controversy over a British ship-naming contest in which Boaty McBoatface emerged as the overwhelming favorite. So how about Dwarfplanety McDwarfplanetface, or Plutoid McPlutoface?

The cause of all this mirth is a research paper in the Astronomical Journal that provides a new size estimate for 2007 OR10, which lies far out in the Kuiper Belt, the broad ring of icy material just beyond Neptune. The object traces an eccentric orbit that takes 547.51 Earth years to complete, and ranges as far out as 66.9 times Earth’s distance from the sun (6.2 billion miles).

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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