Researchers working with the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a moon in orbit around Makemake, a distant minor-planet that’s about two-thirds the size of Pluto.
Discovered in 2005, Makemake (pronounced mak-eh, mak-eh) is one of the brightest and largest objects in the Kuiper Belt. It’s one of several large trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) known to astronomers, other notable examples being Pluto, Eris, and Sedna. The dwarf planet, named after a creation deity of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island, measures about 870 miles (1,400 km) wide, and features a bitterly cold surface covered with methane, ethane, and possibly nitrogen gases. Makemake is 52.4 AU from the sun (where 1 AU equals the average distance of the Earth to the sun), whereas Pluto’s average distance is about 40 AU.