Makemake - A Planet, Moon or Plutoid?

Makemake is a dwarf planet in the outer solar system. It was the fourth body identified as a dwarf planet and was one of the bodies that caused Pluto to lose its status as a planet.

Computer Generated Image for Makemake

Makemake is large enough and bright enough to be studied by a high-end amateur telescope. Astronomers took advantage of the dwarf planet's recent passage in front of a star — called an occultation — to determine that Makemake has no atmosphere.

It has a moon, though. In 2015, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope discovered a tiny object orbiting Makemake.

Makemake was first observed in March 2005 by a team of astronomers at the Palomar Observatory. Officially known as 2005 FY9, the tiny planetoid was nicknamed Easter bunny by the group. The team was also responsible for the discovery of dwarf planet Eris and was involved in the controversial discovery of the dwarf planet Haumea.

Makemake is the second brightest known object in the outer solar system, just slightly dimmer than Pluto. At 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) wide, it is about two-thirds the size of the more well-known dwarf planet. It orbits beyond the range of Pluto, but closer to the Sun than Eris, taking approximately 310 Earth-years to circle the sun.

Makemake is reddish-brown, leading scientists to conclude that it contained a layer of methane at its surface, possibly in pellets one-centimeter across. Signs of frozen ethane and frozen nitrogen have also been determined.

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