Thursday, May 19, 2016

The dwarf planet Makemake has a moon

A team of astronomers has discovered a faint moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake; one of the five dwarf planets in the Solar System. The object, which takes its name from the Rapanui god of creation, Make-Make, it was discovered in 2005 and is a frozen 1,400 kilometers in diameter that orbits the Sun at a distance greater than Pluto's body.

The first images of the moon, nicknamed MK 2 were obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope in April 2015, the researchers reported. The fact that the detection occurred many years after the discovery of the dwarf planet, is probably due to several factors: The satellite measures only 160 km in diameter and is as dark as coal, which makes it about 1,300 times fainter than Makemake. In addition, the orbit of the moon is singing as seen from Earth, which means that spends much of the time lost in the glare of the planet orbiting.

The shape of the orbit MK 2 is still unclear, but apparently is at a distance of about 21,000 km of Makemake. If the satellite movement is circular, it would take at least 12 days to orbit the dwarf planet, the data suggest. Future analyzes of the orbit will help astronomers to determine the mass of the system Makemake and MK 2, which will shed light on the materials they are made both bodies.

Understanding their composition will allow a better view of history Duo: If the orbit is very "long" could mean that MK 2 was captured gravitationally by Makemake long after both were formed in separate regions of space, while a circular orbit could indicate that they formed together.

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