Size of Makemake compared to the Earth
Facts about the dwarf planet Makemake
- Makemake is the largest of the Kuiper belt objects (KBO) and the only one without any satellites (moons).
- The extremely low temperature of the dwarf planet, about 30 K or −243.2 °C, means that the surface of Makemake is covered with methane, ethane, and possibly nitrogen ices.
- It is named for Makemake, the creator of humanity, god of fertility and chief god in the Rapa Nui mythology of Easter Island.
- Besides Pluto, Makemake was the only dwarf planet bright enough to have possibly been detected by astronomer Clyde William Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. As it happens, Makemake was positioned very close to the Milky Way at the time of his survey – making it almost impossible to discover Makemake against a dense background of stars.
- Makemake lacks the expected atmosphere that astronomers thought it would develop. It was believed that it would develop an atmosphere similar to that of Pluto, however when the dwarf planet passed in front of a bright 18th-magnitude star on 23rd April 2011, it was discovered that it lacks a gas envelope. If it did have an atmosphere, it would most likely be made up of methane and nitrogen.