Join Donate

The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Pluto, Charon, Orcus, and Vanth compared

Pluto, Charon, Orcus, and Vanth compared

Emily Lakdawalla

Pluto, Charon, Orcus, and Vanth compared
Pluto-Charon and Orcus-Vanth are two binary systems in the Kuiper belt. The diagrams represent the current best estimates of their size, with uncertainty. Charon's diameter is known very precisely from stellar occultation measurements. Stellar occultations have not yet been observed for Orcus and Vanth. While they have been observed for Pluto, its atmosphere acts like a lens, bending starlight, and changing the timing of occultation events; until we understand the structure of its atmosphere better (which should happen during the New Horizons flyby) its diameter will remain uncertain by a few tens of kilometers.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. For uses not allowed by that license, contact us to request publication permission from the copyright holder

Original image data dated on or about January 14, 2011

Explore related images: trans-neptunian objects, infographic, BMSIL, Pluto, pretty pictures, scale comparisons, 90482 Orcus (2004 DW), Charon, miscellaneous trans-Neptunian objects

You are here:
Comments & Sharing
More Images
Bill Nye and people
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

Bruce Murray and Carl Sagan
Pretty Pictures

Support the Bruce Murray Space Image Library and help us share the wonders of other worlds.


"We're changing the world. Are you in?"
- CEO Bill Nye

I'm In!