Not many of us are aware of the dwarf planet Haumea that exists within our solar system. To qualify a dwarf planet must achieve hydrostatic equilibrium (meaning they are round) and have the mass of a planet. Where they differ from regular planets is that their gravitational pull is not the dominant force in their orbit; basically, there is a larger planet that is influencing their orbit. Here are some facts about the little planet.
Three Haumeas to one Earth
You can fit three of the dwarf planet into the same space the Earth occupies, should you wish to try. Haumea is situated on the outer reaches of our solar system, and it has large bodies of frozen water on its surface. Despite being a third of the size of Earth, it only weighs 0.00066% of the Earth.
Two different research teams claim to have discovered the dwarf planet. Firstly, in 2004, a Caltech team noticed the planet but did not announce it. A Spanish team announced the discovery in 2005. Usually, the team that declares discovery is given credit, but the Caltech scientists dispute the Spanish team’s methods. Caltech claims that the Spanish team used Caltech observations to make the discovery. The dispute is still ongoing, and in the official documentation, the credit is left blank to avoid any further controversy.
Hawaii is the source of its name
Haumea is a goddess in Hawaiian mythology, she is the goddess of childbirth and fertility. She gave birth to many children, all of them were born from several parts of her body, including her head. The name was chosen by the Caltech team, which probably sticks in the throat of the Spanish team, as their name suggestion missed out by just one vote in the naming process. Haumea’s moon was discovered in Hawaii, so the two moons are named after Haumea’s children – Namaka and Hi’iaka.
It’s got a ring around it
Clearly, someone liked the dwarf planet very much, so much that they put a ring around it. The fact it has a ring around it is unusual as it is the farthest known object in the solar system to have one. The ring’s radius is about 2,287 km wide and contributes to the brightness of the dwarf planet.
Blinded by the lights
The surface of the dwarf planet is extremely bright, in fact, it is almost as bright as snow. Large parts of the planet’s surface is covered in crystalline ice, which means the ice is formed in a symmetrical pattern. Due to this ice, the surface is reflective and bounces light back at everyone who observes it.
Time flies on Haumea
A day in the life of a ‘Haumean’ only lasts 3.9 hours, giving the dwarf planet the shortest day of any significant objects floating around in our solar system. That would make your working day a lot quicker, something we all wish was possible. Thanks to the rotational speed of the dwarf planet the surface has been compressed into an egg shape, more like a football than any other planet in the solar system. Haumea looks more like a pebble you’d find on a beach than a planet, it is perfect to skim across the water – if you’re a giant.
Those were some of the facts about dwarf planet Haumea that you may not have known before. Perhaps you didn’t even know there was a dwarf planet called Haumea, now you can impress everyone with your astrological knowledge.