Makemake: The Icy Puzzle Piece

The Makemake | A series on our Planet Makemake By Academic Block

In the vast expanse of our solar system, beyond the familiar planets that orbit the sun, lies a lesser-known celestial wonder called Makemake. As a member of the mysterious Kuiper Belt, Makemake is a captivating dwarf planet that has intrigued astronomers and space enthusiasts alike. In this article, we will embark on a journey to uncover the captivating Makemake facts that make this distant world so intriguing. Through this exploration, readers of all ages will gain a deeper understanding of its place in the cosmos.

One of the standout features of Makemake is its size. The diameter of Makemake is estimated to be around 1,430 kilometers (888 miles). And its mass is estimated to be about 4.4 x 1021 kilograms, which is roughly 0.0007 times the mass of Earth. While not as massive as the major planets in our solar system, it is much larger than most other objects in the Kuiper Belt. With its diameter around two-thirds that of Pluto, another notable dwarf planet in the region. This significant size places Makemake among the largest trans-Neptunian objects.

Makemake’s orbit is another fascinating aspect to explore. The distance at which Makemake orbits is quite impressive, as it resides at an average distance of about 4.2 billion miles from the sun. Its long elliptical path around the sun takes about 309 Earth years to complete. This extreme distance is a testament to the vast and mysterious nature of the Kuiper Belt, a region beyond the orbit of Neptune tend a home to a myriad of icy bodies.

As we delve deeper into Makemake’s characteristics, we find ourselves captivated by its surface. Despite the immense distance from the sun, Makemake experiences a noticeable amount of sunlight. This sunlight, however, is feeble compared to what we experience on Earth. The surface temperature on Makemake hovers around a chilly -240 degrees Celsius (-400 degrees Fahrenheit), a condition that perpetuates the icy nature of this celestial body.

Intriguingly, Makemake lacks a discernible atmosphere. Unlike some other planets and even Pluto, which has a thin atmosphere, Makemake’s surface is exposed to the vacuum of space. This unique feature contributes to its stark and barren landscape, characterized by frozen ices and a lack of significant geological activity. It’s worth noting that this lack of atmosphere also means there’s no protective shield from harmful solar radiation, making any potential future missions to Makemake a complex endeavor.

Makemake’s moons are an aspect that continues to be investigated by astronomers. While no moons have been definitively observed around Makemake, ongoing research aims to uncover potential companions orbiting this distant world. The presence of moons could provide insights into the history and formation of Makemake and its place within the Kuiper Belt.

Makemake was discovered on March 31, 2005, by a team of astronomers led by Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David Rabinowitz. This discovery marked a significant milestone in our understanding of the outer solar system. Initially designated as 2005 FY9, it was later named after the creator deity of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially classified Makemake as a dwarf planet, a celestial body that shares characteristics with both planets and asteroids.

As we wrap up our exploration of Makemake, we can’t help but marvel at the intricate dance of celestial bodies in our solar system. This captivating dwarf planet, residing in the distant reaches of the Kuiper Belt, offers a wealth of scientific knowledge waiting to be discovered.

Final Words:

In conclusion, this article has provided a comprehensive overview of Makemake and its various facets. From its discovery to its size, orbit, icey surface, and more, we’ve unraveled the mysteries that surround this distant world. This information by Academic Block is rooted in thoroughly researched scientific literature, making it a reliable resource for anyone seeking to understand Makemake. Please suggest and comment below, this will help us in improving this article. Thanks for reading.

The MakeMake
Interesting facts on the Makemake
  1. Dwarf Planet Discovery: Makemake was discovered on March 31, 2005, by a team of astronomers led by Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David Rabinowitz. Its discovery added to the growing list of dwarf planets beyond Pluto.
  2. Named After a Creator Deity: The name “Makemake” is derived from the creation deity of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island. This name was chosen to honor the connection between the island’s culture and the celestial world.
  3. Kuiper Belt Residence: Makemake is located in the Kuiper Belt, a region beyond Neptune that is home to numerous icy bodies and dwarf planets. Its distant and elliptical orbit takes it far from the sun.
  4. Icy Composition: Like other objects in the Kuiper Belt, Makemake is primarily composed of ice, including methane, ethane, and nitrogen ices. This composition contributes to its reflective surface.
  5. Size Comparison: Makemake is one of the largest objects in the Kuiper Belt, with an estimated diameter of around 1,430 kilometers (888 miles). It’s about two-thirds the size of Pluto, another dwarf planet in the same region.
  6. Orbital Period: Makemake has a relatively long orbital period, taking about 309 Earth years to complete one orbit around the sun. This slow journey results in its distant and frigid environment.
  7. Surface Features: Observations suggest that Makemake’s surface is covered in a layer of frozen methane and possibly other ices. The surface is reflective, giving it a bright appearance in telescopic images.
  8. Lack of Atmosphere: Unlike some other dwarf planets like Pluto, Makemake lacks a substantial atmosphere. This contributes to its stark and barren surface, with no significant weather or atmospheric processes.
  9. Potential Moons: While no moons have been definitively confirmed around Makemake, observations and studies suggest the possibility of undiscovered companions. The presence of moons could reveal more about its history and formation.
  10. Complex Rotational State: Makemake’s rotation is relatively rapid, completing a full rotation in about 7.8 hours. This rapid spin adds complexity to studying its surface features and potential moons.
  11. Limited Exploration: As of now, no dedicated space missions have been sent to Makemake. However, ground-based telescopes, space observatories like Hubble, and flyby missions like New Horizons have provided valuable data about this distant dwarf planet.
  12. Scientific Interest: Studying Makemake and other Kuiper Belt objects provides insights into the early history of our solar system, the formation of icy bodies, and the dynamics of these distant regions.
Academic references in terms of books and published articles on Makemake
  • “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” by Mike Brown This book is written by the astronomer who played a significant role in reclassifying Pluto as a dwarf planet. While not solely focused on Makemake, it provides insights into the discovery and classification of various celestial objects in the outer solar system.
  • “The Solar System Beyond Neptune” edited by M. A. Barucci, H. Boehnhardt, D. P. Cruikshank, and A. Morbidelli This book covers a range of topics related to trans-Neptunian objects, including dwarf planets like Makemake. It provides a comprehensive overview of our understanding of objects in the Kuiper Belt and beyond.
  • “The New Solar System” edited by J. Kelly Beatty, Carolyn Collins Petersen, and Andrew Chaikin This book is a general reference on the solar system, covering all the major planets, dwarf planets, and other celestial bodies. It includes sections on Makemake and other Kuiper Belt objects.
  • “Planets Beyond: Discovering the Outer Solar System” by Mark Littmann and Fred Espenak While not specifically focused on Makemake, this book provides insights into the discovery and exploration of various outer solar system objects, including dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt.
  • “Dwarf Planets” by David M. Barker This book is part of the “Space” series and provides information about dwarf planets in our solar system, including Makemake. It’s aimed at readers who want to delve deeper into the topic of dwarf planets.
  • “The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference” by Alan Boyle While this book focuses on Pluto, it also discusses the broader context of dwarf planets and the redefinition of Pluto’s status. It provides insights into the evolving understanding of celestial bodies like Makemake.
Relatable Research Articles:
  • Brown, M. E., Trujillo, C. A., & Rabinowitz, D. L. (2005). “Discovery of a Candidate Inner Oort Cloud Planetoid.” The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 635(1), L97.
  • Brown, M. E., & Butler, B. J. (2018). “The Diameter and Density of the Distant Dwarf Planet Eris.” The Astronomical Journal, 155(1), 22.
  • Grundy, W. M., Noll, K. S., Nimmo, F., Roe, H. G., Buie, M. W., Porter, S. B., … & Benecchi, S. D. (2019). “Mutual events in the cold classical trans-Neptunian binary system Sila and Nunam.” Icarus, 322, 54-69.
  • Stansberry, J., Grundy, W., Brown, M., Cruikshank, D., Spencer, J., Trilling, D., … & Young, E. (2008). “Physical properties of Kuiper Belt and Centaur objects: constraints from the Spitzer Space Telescope.” The Solar System Beyond Neptune, 161-179.
  • Noll, K. S., Grundy, W. M., Chiang, E. I., Margot, J. L., & Kern, S. D. (2008). “Binaries in the Kuiper Belt.” The Solar System Beyond Neptune, 345-363.
  • Grundy, W. M., Noll, K. S., Buie, M. W., Benecchi, S. D., & Stephens, D. C. (2018). “The mutual orbit, mass, and density of transneptunian binary Gǃkúnǁʼhòmdímà (229762 2007 UK126).” Icarus, 311, 412-420.
  • Schindler, K., Bauer, J. M., & Brown, M. E. (2020). “A Dark Mitten on Makemake: Large and Variable Rotationally Resolved Reflectance V Band Photometry of 136472 (2005 FY9).” The Astronomical Journal, 159(1), 20.
  • Trujillo, C. A., & Sheppard, S. S. (2014). “A Sedna-like body with a perihelion of 80 astronomical units.” Nature, 507(7493), 471-474.
  • Thirouin, A., Sheppard, S. S., Noll, K. S., & Moskovitz, N. (2016). “The mutual orbit, mass, and density of transneptunian binary system (66652).” Icarus, 267, 267-275.
  • Levison, H. F., Kring, D. A., Carlson, R. W., & Robertson, D. S. (2001). “The Impact and Early Thermal Evolution of Pluto.” Pluto and Charon, 59-115.
Web reference on the Makemake
  1. NASA Solar System Exploration – Makemake:
  2. European Southern Observatory (ESO) – Makemake:
  3. Hubble Space Telescope – Makemake: An Icy Wonder in the Outer Solar System:
  4. American Astronomical Society – “The Mutual Orbit, Mass, and Density of Transneptunian Binary Gǃkúnǁʼhòmdímà (229762 2007 UK126)”:
  5. Space Telescope Science Institute – Makemake:
  6. American Geophysical Union – Pluto, Eris, and Makemake at 10 Years:
  7. Smithsonian Magazine – The Icy Dwarf Planet Makemake Is the Second-Brightest Kuiper Belt Object:
  8. SpaceRef – Makemake: An Icy Kingdom in the Kuiper Belt:
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