Feeds

Say hi to Haumea - our fifth dwarf planet

'Bizarre' trans-Neptunian object honours Hawaiian goddess

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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".

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
ALIEN BODY FOUND ON MARS: Curiosity rover snaps extraterrestrial
And NASA kept evidence to itself for over a month
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS are FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, though
NASA: ALIENS and NEW EARTHS will be ours inside 20 years
ETs, habitable planets will soon pop up with our new 'scopes
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.