Feeds

Say hi to Haumea - our fifth dwarf planet

'Bizarre' trans-Neptunian object honours Hawaiian goddess

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that the object formerly known as 2003 EL61 will henceforth be addressed as "Haumea", and joins Ceres, Eris, Makemake and Pluto in the solar system's league of dwarf planets.

The IAU describes trans-Neptunian Haumea as a fast-spinning "bizarre object with a shape resembling a plump cigar", with a diameter "approximately the same as that of the dwarf planet Pluto".

The name is taken from the goddess of childbirth and fertility in Hawaiian mythology, which the IAU considers particularly appropriate since "Haumea also represents the element of stone and observations of Haumea hint that, unusually, the dwarf planet is almost entirely composed of rock with a crust of pure ice".

To further back its choice, the IAU notes that Haumea is "joined in its orbit" by two satellites thought to have been created by debris knocked off its surface by historic impacts. The goddess Haumea's children "sprang from different parts of her body", according to Hawaiian lore.

The largest of the two kids has been christened "Hi'iaka" in honour of Hawaii's patron goddess, who was born from the mouth of Haumea. The second is "Namaka", a water spirit who emerged from Haumea's body.

Haumea is currently lying "roughly 50 times the Sun-Earth distance from the Sun". Its elliptical orbit's closest approach to the Sun is around 35 times the Sun-Earth distance. ®

Bootnote

We don't know about you lot, but these names are getting a bit esoteric, what with Makemake and now Haumea. We're therefore lobbying the IAU that the next dwarf body be dubbed "Dave" and its satellites "Chantelle" and "Chelsea".

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.