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Solar System Exploration
Planets
Haumea: Overview
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Black and white image of Haumea and moons
An artist's concept of Haumea and its moons, Hi'aka and Namaka.
Oddly-shaped Haumea is one of the fastest rotating large objects in our solar system. It completes a turn on its axis every four hours. The quick spin elongated the dwarf planet into the unique shape astronomers discovered in 2003. It is roughly the same size as Pluto. Like Pluto and Eris, Haumea orbits our Sun in the Kuiper Belt, a distant zone of icy objects beyond the orbit of Neptune.It takes 285 Earth years for Haumea to make one orbit around our sun.

It is possible a massive impact billions of years ago set off Haumea's spin and created its moons. Haumea's known moons are Hi'aka and Namaka. Astronomers believe Haumea is a made of rock with a coating of ice.

Discovery:
Haumea was discovered in March 2003 at the Sierra Nevada Observatory in Spain. The official announcement of its discovery came in 2005, the same year its moons were discovered.

How Haumea got its name:
Originally designated 2003 EL61 (and nicknamed Santa by its discoverers), Haumea is named for the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth and fertility. Its moons are named for daughters of Haumea. Hi'aka is the patron goddess of the island of Hawaii and of hula dancers. Namaka is a water spirit in Hawaiian mythology.

Just the Facts
Orbit Size (semi-major axis):  6,432,011,461 km
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Last Updated: 6 Apr 2012