Haumea (dwarf planet)

Haumea (Dwarf Planet)

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Haumea (dwarf planet)

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Haumea, formal designation 136108 Haumea, is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt. It is the fourth-largest dwarf planet in the Solar System, one-third the mass of Pluto. It was discovered in 2004 by a team headed by Mike Brown of Caltech at the Palomar Observatory<!--Keck was used for follow-up imaging, and discovered the moons and the surface of ice--> in the United States and, in 2005, by a team headed by J. L. Ortiz at the Sierra Nevada Observatory in Spain, though the latter claim has been contested. On September 17, 2008, it was designated a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and named after Haumea, the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth.

Haumea's extreme elongation makes it unique among known dwarf planets. Although its shape has not been directly observed, calculations from its light curve suggest it is an ellipsoid, with its greatest axis twice as long as its shortest. Nonetheless, its gravity is believed sufficient for it to have relaxed into hydrostatic equilibrium, thereby meeting the definition of a dwarf planet. This elongation, along with its unusually rapid rotation, high density, and high albedo (from a surface of crystalline water ice), are thought to be the results of a giant collision, which left Haumea the largest member of a collisional family that includes several large trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) and its two known...
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