Size of Haumea compared to the Earth
Facts about the dwarf planet Haumea
- Haumea’s ellipsoid shape is believe to be the result of its rapid rotation, similar to the way a water balloon which stretch out when thrown with a spin. This rotational speed, along with its collisional origin make Haumea one of the densest dwarf planets discovered to date.
- It was classified as dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on September 17th, 2008 and is named for Haumea, the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth.
- Haumea has two small satellites (moons) orbiting the planet called Hi’iaka & Namaka. These were discovered by Mike Brown’s team in 2005 through observations using the W.M. Keck Observatory.
- The planet’s moons are thought to be the result of a collision from a large object with Haumea billions of years ago – causing pieces of Haumea to fragment and begin orbiting the planet.
- One day on Haumea lasts 3.9 Earth hours because it is one of the fastest rotating large objects in the solar system.
- The dwarf planet is made from rock with a thick coating of ice, according to scientists.
- Haumea is the third brightest object in the Kuiper belt, after the dwarf planets Pluto and Makemake. On a clear night with a good quality telescope, this makes it possible to see Haumea in the night sky.