Looking up something else about Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), I stumbled on an interesting page with a very interesting graphic. That leads to an interesting question and answer.
I’ve driven across the USA more times than I can remember. Not nearly as many as long haul truckers, but quite a few. First time was at about 3 years old (Dad did a marathon drive back to Iowa has HIS Dad was dying and this was the only chance for him to see our family and us to say goodby. That was the first time I ever saw snow. Out the back of a Chevy Stationwagon – circa 1956 or 57 model year. Still remember the experience too.) Later, about college years, I did it two more times. Once in a ’67 VW Fastback about ’73, another in a Honda Accord (1976 – the first shipment date). Then it starts to get fuzzy. A couple of more times with my family. Another half dozen times or so going to jobs in Florida. And a couple of others. The point? I’ve driven coast to coast A Lot. I know just how big this place is, and just how long it takes to cross it.
Now some folks don’t. They have been spared the experience either by lack of opportunity, or so much opportunity they can just fly over it. You miss a lot that way. For one thing, during the Nixon Stupid Years when we had the Federal 55 MPH speed limit imposed, one Texan wisecracked that crossing Texas at 55 was not a journey, it was a career… I tend to think him right. There’s a lot to experience at 55 for about 20 hours… But I don’t recommend it.
It’s about 908 miles from the Louisiana edge to the El Paso point. (Not that I’ve watched the odometer and / or mile markers every single time ;-) That’s about 1460 km for those who are impaired by the metric system…) It is fully 1/3 of the drive from Silicon Valley to near Orlando Florida, and slightly more than 1/3 of ‘edge to edge’ starting in L.A. and ending at the Atlantic. In short, Texas is big. Very big.
So with that ‘set up’, just how big is it? Big enough to be a dwarf planet…
This site has a lot of interesting things, beyond just this one image.
Comparison of the largest TNOs
by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 15 March 2015
The image below compares the sizes of the largest outer solar system objects. It includes:
the Earth, the Moon, and Mercury (the smallest planet other than Pluto), for reference;
the three largest asteroids: (1) Ceres, (2) Pallas, and (4) Vesta;
Triton, the largest moon of Neptune;
Pluto, its large moon Charon, and its smaller moons Hydra, Nix, Kerberos and Styx;
(136199) Eris and its moon Dysnomia;
(136108) Haumea and its moon Hi’iaka and Namaka;
the distant object (90377) Sedna;
the 46 other known trans-Neptunian objects that are at least 500 km in diameter–at least as large as the three largest asteroids–and their 7 known moons;
the ringed object (10199) Chariklo;
the triple object (47171) 1999 TC36; and
the U.S. state of Texas for comparison.
Relative sizes, brightnesses, and colors are shown.
You will find Texas centered just under the Earth and in between Pluto / Charon and Mercury.
Note that it is about the same size as Ceres and Sedna, larger than Vesta and Pallas, and only modestly smaller than Makemake and Haumea. IMHO, if you included the wedge of the Earth under Texas all the way to the core, it would likely be larger and outmass all of them.
Somehow it gives it perspective to realize that if Texas were in orbit on its own, it would be a dwarf or minor planet, or a fairly large moon (depending on what it was orbiting).