Why MakeMake Dwarf Planet Is Special?
On the outskirts of the Solar System, in a region we know as the Kuiper Belt, there are many small objects, including several dwarf planets. Makemake was the fourth discovered and one of the culprits that Pluto lost its classification as a planet a decade ago, but … What is so special about this object?
Let’s find out!
A group of astronomers observed Makemake at the Palomar Observatory (located in San Diego, California) in March 2005.
As a curiosity, the name of this object is pronounced like this, as it is written; as much as it may seem a repetition of the word make.
Two days earlier, the dwarf planet Haumea had been announced by a team of astronomers from Spain. This announcement was surrounded by controversy because it was made with data extracted from the computer of the Palomar Observatory telescope. This unfortunate event caused the Californian team to be forced to announce ahead of schedule the discovery of Makemake and Eris; for fear that they would try to snatch authorship again.
Although Makemake has a relative brightness equivalent to one-fifth the brightness of Pluto, it was not discovered until after many other Kuiper belt objects with a fainter apparent magnitude. What happened is that the search for minor planets is done near the ecliptic (an area where most of the objects orbiting the Sun are located), while Makemake’s orbit is very inclined.
By an irony of fate, although Makemake has a very inclined orbit, at the time of its discovery, it was situated at its most significant distance from the ecliptic, in the north of the constellation Berenice’s Hair.
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