Feeds

Third plutoid christened 'Makemake'

Polynesian fertility god joins league of dwarf planets

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?