Feeds

Third plutoid christened 'Makemake'

Polynesian fertility god joins league of dwarf planets

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.