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The Dwarf Planet Makemake: Facts & Overview

Instructor: John Williams
Makemake is a dwarf planet found in the outer edges of the solar system. This lesson addresses Makemake, its characteristics, and its location in our solar system within the Kuiper Belt.

Introduction

Our solar system contains 8 major planets, all of which orbit the sun. However, our solar system also contains hundreds of smaller bodies that orbit the sun, which include asteroids and dwarf planets.

A dwarf planet is a small planetary body that orbits the sun, is smaller than the major planets, and is not considered a moon. Makemake is one of these dwarf planets. This lesson discusses Makemake and its characteristics as a dwarf planet.

Makemake and Other Dwarf Planets
dwarf planets

Makemake's Location and Characteristics

Makemake was discovered in 2005, and it is found in a region known as the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is a collection of small orbiting bodies that are located beyond Neptune. It includes the dwarf planets Eris, Pluto, and Ceres.

Makemake was officially designated as a dwarf planet in 2008. It was previously known only as 2005 FY9, but was then named after Makemake (MAH-keh MAH-keh), or the creator of humanity according to Polynesian myth.

Makemake has a diameter between 1,300 and 1,900 kilometers, which makes it smaller than Pluto. It is also classified as a plutoid planet, which is a term that is used to describe dwarf planets near Pluto on the outer edges of the solar system. Unlike other dwarf planets, Makemake does not have any known moons (natural bodies that orbit the planet).

Makemake's Surface

Makemake has a surface temperature that is very, very cold. It is estimated to be approximately -243 degrees Celsius. This is due to the dwarf planet's distance away from the sun. The surface is composed primarily of frozen methane (CH4) and nitrogen. Due to the extremely cold temperatures, Makemake does not have a significant amount of atmospheric gases, as most of the gases are frozen into ice.

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