NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has teamed up with the W.M. Keck Observatory to precisely measure the mass of Eris, the largest member of a new class of dwarf planets in our solar system. Eris is 1.27 times the mass of Pluto, formerly the largest member of the Kuiper Belt of icy objects beyond Neptune.
Hubble observations in 2006 showed that Eris is slightly physically larger than Pluto. But the mass could only be calculated by observing the orbital motion of the moon Dysnomia around Eris.
The discovery of Eris in 2005 prompted a debate over the planetary status of Pluto because astronomers realized they would have to call it the "10th" planet if Pluto retained its own planetary status, which was already under debate. This led the International Astronomical Union, in 2006, to make a new class of solar system object called dwarf planets.
Image Credit: hubblesite.org