Congrats Makemake, you are now no longer just a number

How many of you pronounce Makemake as “make-make” or “maki-maki? Hahaha… no, the correct pronunciation is “MAH-kay MAH-kay”.

Artist's conception of Makemake by Ann Feild (STScI)

Makemake, a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO), may have been around our Solar System for billions of years. But only few years back we discovered its existence. And only a few days back it has this officially name.

Formerly it was known as 2005 FY9, 136472 and unofficially called Easterbunny because it was discovered just a few days past Easter in 2005. Makemake was discovered by Mike Brown, Trujillo and Rabinowitz at Palomar Observatory in 2005.

Makemake is not just a Kuiper Belt Object, it is also a trans-Neptunian object, it is also been officially classifed as a dwarf planet, and also a plutoid as well. It is the fourth member of the dwarf planet category after Pluto, Eris and Ceres, and the third plutoid after Pluto and Eris.

Who is this Makemake in mythology? From the official citation:

“Makemake is the creator of humanity and the god of fertility in the mythology of the South Pacific island of Rapa Nui. He was the chief god of the Tangata manu bird-man cult and was worshipped in the form of sea birds, which were his incarnation. His material symbol, a man with a bird’s head, can be found carved in petroglyphs on the island.”

Rapa Nui is also known by its English name of Easter Island.

Makemake is big (I mean big around its neighbourhood. Big is relative, depends on what you compare it to), probably about two-third the size of Pluto. And it is bright (of course this is relative also), the next brightest object in the Kuiper Belt after Pluto. So far, no moon has been found around Makemake.

Because most searches for minor planets are conducted relatively close to the ecliptic, due to the greater probability of finding objects there, one reason Makemake was missed earlier despite its brightness may be due to its 29-degree highly inclination orbit to the ecliptic (Pluto inclination is 17 degrees, whereas the other planets are less than 7 degrees).

Makemake is currently at a distance of 52 AU from the Sun, almost as far from the Sun as it ever reaches in its orbit. In this extremely low temperature environment, its surface is covered with large amounts of almost pure methane ice.


~ by thChieh on July 21, 2008.

2 Responses to “Congrats Makemake, you are now no longer just a number”

  1. […] Congrats Makemake, you are now no longer just a number « My Dark Sky […]

  2. […] Haumea, Hi’iaka and Namaka Let’s welcome the fifth member to the club of dwarf planet – Haumea, joining Pluto, Ceres, Eris and Makemake. […]

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