Introduction

Originally designated 2003 EL61 (and nicknamed Santa by one discovery team), Haumea is located in the Kuiper Belt, a donut-shaped region of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. The other known dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt are Pluto, Eris, and Makemake (dwarf planet Ceres is located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter).

Haumea is roughly the same size as Pluto. It is one of the fastest rotating large objects in our solar system. The fast spin distorts Haumea's shape, making this dwarf planet look like a football.

Two teams claim credit for discovering Haumea citing evidence from observations made in 2003 and 2004. The International Astronomical Union’s Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature lists the discovery location as Sierra Nevada Observatory in Spain on Mar. 7, 2003, but no official discoverer is listed.

Everything we know about Haumea is from observations with ground-based telescopes from around the world.

Other key dates:

  • 2005: Haumea's moons are discovered.
  • 2008: Haumea is recognized as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union and named Haumea.
Namesake

Namesake

Haumea is named after the Hawaiian goddess of fertility.

Potential for Life

Potential for Life

Haumea is extremely cold and doesn't appear to have conditions suitable for life.

Size and Distance

Size and Distance

With a radius of about 385 miles (620 kilometers), Haumea is about 1/14 the radius of Earth. If Earth were the size of a nickel, Haumea would be about as big as a sesame seed.

From an average distance of 4,010,000,000 miles (6,452,000,000 kilometers), Haumea is 43 astronomical units away from the Sun. One astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU), is the distance from the Sun to Earth. From this distance, it takes sunlight 6 hours to travel from the Sun to Haumea.

Orbit and Rotation

Orbit and Rotation

Haumea takes 285 Earth years to make one trip around the Sun. As Haumea orbits the Sun, it completes one rotation every 4 hours, making it one of the fastest rotating large objects in our solar system.

It is possible that a large object impacted Haumea billions of years ago and set off Haumea's spin and created its moons.

A 3D model of Haumea, a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt Credit: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD) › Download Options
Moons

Moons

Haumea has two known moons: Namaka is the inner moon, and Hi'iaka is the outer moon. Both are named for the mythological daughters of Haumea. Hi'iaka is the patron goddess of the island of Hawaii and of hula dancers. Namaka is a water spirit in Hawaiian mythology.

Rings

Rings

Haumea is the first known Kuiper Belt Object to have rings. Scientists announced the discovery in 2017 after watching the dwarf planet pass in front of a star.

Formation

Formation

Dwarf planet Haumea is a member of a group of objects that orbit in a disc-like zone beyond the orbit of Neptune called the Kuiper Belt. This distant realm is populated with thousands of miniature icy worlds which formed early in the history of our solar system about 4.5 billion years ago. These icy, rocky bodies are called Kuiper Belt objects, transneptunian objects, or plutoids.

Structure

Structure

Astronomers believe Haumea is made of rock with a coating of ice.

Surface

Surface

We know very little about Haumea's surface.

Atmosphere

Atmosphere

We know very little about Haumea's atmosphere.

Magnetosphere

Magnetosphere

Scientists do not think Haumea has a magnetosphere.

Resources

Resources

Haumea 3D Model

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