Solar System: Makemake

Solar System: Makemake

Makemake, a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt, was discovered in 2005 by a team of astronomers led by Mike Brown. Named after the creation deity of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island, Makemake's remote location and the presence of a solitary moon have drawn significant interest from researchers.

  1. Properties of Makemake

Makemake has an average diameter of approximately 1,430 kilometres, making it the second-largest Kuiper Belt object after Eris. The dwarf planet has an orbital period of around 309 Earth years and a moderately inclined orbit at 29 degrees. Makemake's surface is primarily composed of frozen methane, with some areas appearing reddish due to the presence of tholins, which are complex organic molecules formed by the interaction of sunlight with methane and other ices.

Makemake's atmosphere is a subject of ongoing research. Some observations suggest a tenuous atmosphere consisting of methane, while others indicate that the dwarf planet may have little or no atmosphere at all.

  1. Makemake's Moon: S/2015 (136472) 1 (MK 2)

Makemake's moon, S/2015 (136472) 1 or MK 2, was discovered in 2016 using the Hubble Space Telescope. The moon has an estimated diameter of 160 kilometres and orbits Makemake at a distance of approximately 21,100 kilometres. The orbital period of MK 2 is currently unknown, as more observations are needed to accurately determine its path around Makemake.

  1. Formation of Makemake and Its Moon

The formation of Makemake and its moon is still a subject of investigation. One hypothesis suggests that a giant impact event between Makemake and another trans-Neptunian object in the early solar system resulted in the ejection of material that later coalesced to form MK 2. Further study and exploration of Makemake and its moon will be required to gain a better understanding of their formation history.

  1. Exploration of Makemake

To date, there have been no missions to Makemake or its moon, and our knowledge of these celestial bodies is based primarily on ground-based telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope. Future missions to Makemake and its moon could provide invaluable information about the formation and evolution of the outer solar system, the nature of trans-Neptunian objects, and the history of the early solar system.

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