Read about the dwarf planet Makemake that contains a lot of ice. Astronomers have confirmed for the first time that the distant icy dwarf planet Makemake has no atmosphere.
Astronomers led by José Luis Ortiz of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Spain spotted the dwarf planet during an eclipse by looking at light from a distant star.
Previous observations have shown that Makemake is two-thirds the size of Pluto (Makemake's equatorial radius is 1502? ±? 45 km) and that it may have a small atmosphere that descends on the planet as it moves away from the Sun.
If this were the case, then the light of the star would gradually disappear and reappear as it passes through the planet's atmosphere. However, when Makemake passed through the light of the star NOMAD 1181-0235723 on April 23, 2011, the light disappeared and suddenly reappeared. According to Jose Luis Ortiz, this means that the dwarf planet does not have any significant atmosphere. However, astronomer Dr. Michael Ireland of Macquarie University in Sydney argues that the debate about Makemake's atmosphere is not over yet.
"Makemake travels in a high elliptical 300-year orbit, and therefore the surface temperature rises or falls depending on the distance of the planet from the Sun," says Michael Ireland. At a time when the planet is at the smallest distance from the Sun for 150 years, ice on the planet's surface can sublimate into a rarefied atmosphere. Makemake's orbit is located 38 times farther from the Sun than the Earth's orbit and up to 53 times, depending on where the planet is located in its orbit.
In the course of observations, the results of which were published in the journal Nature, Jose Luis Ortiz and his colleagues were able to more accurately determine the size and density of Makemake. The planet is a slightly flattened ball at both poles - the equatorial diameter is 1502 kilometers, and the polar one is 1430 kilometers.
They also managed to measure the reflectivity of Makemake - a quantity called albedo, which depends on the composition of the planet's surface.
Albedo Makemake is 0.77, which is comparable to a surface similar in composition to dirty snow. Albedo Makemake is larger than Pluto but smaller than Eris, the largest dwarf planet in the solar system.
Makemake is one of five celestial bodies, including Pluto, that have been classified as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union. This planet is named after the creator of humanity and the god of fertility in the culture of the indigenous people of Easter Island.