Makemake is one of the five known dwarf planets in our solar system. It was discovered in 2005 and is located far out in the outer solar system within the Kuiper belt.
Interesting Facts about Makemake
- Makemake was discovered on March the 31st 2005. The dwarf planet was discovered in the Palomar Observatory by a team of astronomers. This was the same team who discovered the dwarf planet Eris. It was the fourth dwarf planet to be discovered (this includes Pluto being reclassified)
- Makemake does not have any moons. It is the only Kuiper belt object with no satellites. This means Makemake’s mass can only be estimated because it has no nearby objects – a planet’s satellites are used for astronomers to calculate mass and density easily..
- Makemake is the fourth dwarf planet away from the Sun. Its discovery, along with that of Eris and Haumea, contributed to the decision to classify Pluto as a dwarf planet.
- Makemake is roughly two thirds the size of Pluto. It is also slightly dimmer than Pluto but brighter than Eris.
- Makemake spins on its axis once every 22.5 hours. This makes a day on Makemake similar in length to a day on Earth.
- Makemake is the largest of the Kuiper belt objects. This makes it visible through an amateur telescope. Recently the dwarf planet passed by a star allowing astronomers to see that has no atmosphere. This was unexpected as scientists thought it would have a thin atmosphere similar to Pluto’s.
- The dwarf planet is named after Makemake, the creator of humanity and the God of Fertility in Rapanui mythology.
- The dwarf planet was initially nicknamed easter bunny by the team who discovered it because it was discovered shortly after Easter. The Rapanui live on Easter Island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, so this helped connect to the official name of Makemake.
- Makemake has an average surface temperature is -239 degrees Celcius. This is due to the dwarf planets huge distance from the Sun and is far too cold to support any life.
- The surface of Makemake is made of ice. It is suspected that its surface is mostly made of methane, ethane and frozen nitrogen. This gives the dwarf planet a reddish brown colour.
- Makemake takes 309 earth years to orbit the Sun. Makemake orbits beyond the orbit of Pluto, but closer to the Sun than Eris.