This picture shows what an artist thinks Haumea and its moons look like. The moons, Hi'iaka and Namaka, are actually much further from Haumea than shown here.
Click on image for full size
Images courtesy of NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI).
Moons of the Dwarf Planet Haumea
Haumea is a dwarf planet in our Solar System. Haumea has
known moons, both discovered in 2005.
Hi'iaka is the larger moon. It has a diameter of about 310 km (193 miles). It orbits Haumea once every 49 days. It is about 49,500 km (30,758 miles) away from Haumea. Hi'iaka was discovered on January 26, 2005. It was discovered by a team of astronomers led by Mike Brown.
Namaka is the smaller moon. It is roughly 170 km (106 miles) across. Namaka orbits Haumea every 34.7 days at a distance of 39,300 km (24,420 miles). Namaka was discovered on June 30, 2005. It was also discovered by Mike Brown's group.
Astronomers think Haumea may have crashed into another large object a long time ago. Maybe that's why the dwarf planet spins so fast and has such an odd shape. The crash might have also created Haumea's moons. Pieces of Haumea left over from the crash might have come together to make the moons.
In Hawaiian mythology, Haumea is the goddess of fertility and childbirth. Hi'iaka and Namaka are two of her children. Namaka was a sea goddess or water spirit. Hi'iaka was the goddess of hula dancers.
Mike Brown's team at Caltech first spotted Haumea right after Christmas in 2004. They used the nickname "Santa" for the new object until it was given an official name. When they found the moons, the Caltech team stuck with the Christmas theme. They nicknamed Hi'iaka "Rudolph" and Namaka "Blitzen"!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist
, available in our online store
, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.
You might also be interested in:
Haumea is a dwarf planet in our Solar System. Haumea is officially the fifth dwarf planet. The four that came before it are Pluto, Eris, Ceres, and Makemake. Haumea officially became a dwarf planet in...more
You might think that space out near Pluto is pretty empty and lonely. Guess what, it isn't! There are thousands and thousands of giant balls of ice and rock out there. Those giant balls are called Kuiper...more
Haumea was a goddess in Hawaiian mythology. She was the goddess of childbirth. One of her children was the volcano and fire goddess Pele. Her children also included the sea goddess Namaka and Hi'iaka -...more
Haumea is a dwarf planet in our Solar System. Haumea has // Call the moon count function defined in the document head print_moon_count('haumea'); known moons, both discovered in 2005. Hi'iaka is the larger...more
As of June 2009 there are officially five dwarf planets. They are Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Haumea and Makemake. Pluto, Eris, Haumea and Makemake orbit far from the Sun. That makes them very, very cold places....more