Feeds

Say hi to Haumea - our fifth dwarf planet

'Bizarre' trans-Neptunian object honours Hawaiian goddess

High performance access to file storage

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".

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.