Makemake (Dwarf Planet/Plutoid)


Makemake
(correct Polynesian pronunciation MAH-kay MAH-kay) named after Make-make the Rapa Nui (Easter Island) people's god of fertility and creator of humanity, was discovered on March 31, 2005, by the team of M. E. Brown, C. A. Trujillo and D. L. Rabinowitz. This late addition to the Solar family, located in the Kuiper belt [1] beyond Pluto and Haumea, was included by the IAU in the newly created category dwarf planet [2] subclass "plutoid" [3] July 19, 2008, making it officially both a dwarf planet (based largely on its exceptional brightness, a virtual guarantee of hydrostatic equilibrium) and plutoid.

Makemake's orbit of 38.51 AU at perihelion and 53.07 AU at aphelion, places it the farthest from the Sun of any KBO (Kuiper belt object) other than Eris which with an orbit of 97.65 AU at aphelion is also classified as a scattered disk object or SDO. [4]

Its diameter of approximately 1,500 kilometers makes it about two thirds the size of Pluto.

Spectroscopic analysis of the dwarf planet seems to indicate the presence of methane/ethane ice and it's possible that as it approaches perihelion the ice sublimates and forms a tenuous atmosphere.

Makemake has a high surface albedo (reflecting power) of 0.81 and an extremely low average surface temperature of -243.2 Celsius.


To date Makemake has one known moon: S/2015 (136472) 1, nicknamed MK 2


[1] The Kuiper belt is a region of the outer Solar System populated by billions of rock-ice objects. It reaches from the orbit of Neptune (30 AU) outward to approximately 55 AU.


[2] A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round shape), (c) has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit and (d) is not a satellite.

[3] A "plutoid" is a trans-Neptunian dwarf planet.

[4] The scattered disk is an area of rock-ice objects with highly erratic trajectories (steeply inclined to the ecliptic plane) orbiting beyond but approaching Neptune at perihelion (30 AU to as much as 150 AU at aphelion) and therefore subject to continued perturbation by that giant's gravity. As is obvious there is overlap with the Kuiper belt and in fact many astronomers consider the scattered disk to be not separate but rather an extension of that more densely populated inner region.




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