Haumea is a dwarf planet that orbits the sun far beyond Neptune. It is about the same size as Pluto and has two moons. One of its notable characteristics is how fast it spins on its axis.
Just after Christmas of 2004, a team from the Palomar Observatory, led by Mike Brown, discovered a tiny, Pluto-size body in images taken the previous spring. The astronomers nicknamed the rock "Santa."
Time - Brown - Team - Information - Online
About the same time that Brown's team published their information online, a group of astronomers from the Sierra Nevada Observatory, led by José Luis Ortiz Moreno, announced their discovery of the body in images taken in March of 2003.
The object was renamed after the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth and fertility. Its two moons were named for daughters of the goddess, Hi'iaka and Namaka, who were said to have been born from the body of Haumea.
Haumea - Earth-years - Sun - Times - Earth-sun
Haumea takes 285 Earth-years to orbit the sun. At its closest, it only comes within 34 times the Earth-sun distance, while at its farthest, it lies more than 51 times as far away. These distances, combined with Haumea's tiny size, would generally make it difficult for scientists to accurately determine its mass and density. However, in 2005, the first of two moons was found orbiting the body, enabling scientists to determine the mass of the bodies.
Haumea spins on its axis once every four hours, the fastest spin of any known large object in the solar system.
Haumea - Spin - Shape - Football - End
Haumea's rapid spin keeps it from attaining a spheroid shape, instead causing it to look more like a slightly flattened football spinning end over end, as though it had been kicked. Haumea is 1,430 miles (2,300 kilometers) across at its longest axis, but less than half as wide — 619 miles (996 km) — at its shortest. Updated estimates of its mass and...
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