Feeds

Third plutoid christened 'Makemake'

Polynesian fertility god joins league of dwarf planets

Boost IT visibility and business value

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has declared that the trans-Neptunian dwarf planet formerly dubbed 2005 FY9, or "Easterbunny", will henceforth be known as the equally silly "Makemake".

Makemake, discovered in 2005 by a team from the California Institute of Technology led by Mike Brown, is the fourth officially-recognised dwarf planet in our solar system, and the third plutoid, joining Pluto and Eris in the small fry club hanging around beyond Neptune.

Makemake is described as "slightly smaller and dimmer than Pluto" and "reddish in colour", leading astronomers to suggest the surface is covered by a layer of frozen methane.

Since an object's discoverer has the privilege of naming it, it fell to Mike Brown to christen his baby. He explained, quite possibly after a light whalesong and joss-stick session: "We consider the naming of objects in the solar system very carefully. Makemake's surface is covered with large amounts of almost pure methane ice, which is scientifically fascinating, but really not easily relatable to terrestrial mythology.

"Suddenly, it dawned on me: The island of Rapa Nui. Why hadn't I thought of this before? I wasn't familiar with the mythology of the island so I had to look it up, and I found Makemake, the chief god, the creator of humanity, and the god of fertility. I am partial to fertility gods. Eris, Makemake, and 2003 EL61* were all discovered as my wife was 3-6 months pregnant with our daughter. I have the distinct memory of feeling this fertile abundance pouring out of the entire universe. Makemake was part of that."

In case you're wondering, the solar system's quartet of dwarfs is made up by Ceres, which doesn't get plutoid status since its orbit is smaller than Neptune's. ®

Bootnote

*2003 EL61 is a rather stange Kuiper Belt object, shaped like a rugby ball and spinning like it's been well and truly kicked into touch. There's more here.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.