Feeds

Say hi to Haumea - our fifth dwarf planet

'Bizarre' trans-Neptunian object honours Hawaiian goddess

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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".

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.