The US space agency NASA has released a new video that shows moon orbiting dwarf planet MakeMake. Once again, NASA scientists used Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to discover the moon around planet named MakeMake which is located in the Kuiper Belt. MakeMake is the second brightest dwarf planet after the Pluto in the region. NASA scientists knew about the existence of MakeMake for over a decade but it is for the first time that they have located moon orbiting the dwarf planet.
Discovered back in 2005, MakeMake has a diameter of 870 miles while its moon MK2 measures about 100 miles in diameter. MK2 orbits at a distance of 13,000 miles from its planet. Scientists say that it appears 1,300 times fainter than the MakeMake when looked from Earth.
Scientists explain that the Kuiper belt is a region of the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune, believed to contain many comets, asteroids, and other small bodies made largely of ice. The region is home to three major dwarf planets — Pluto, Haumea and MakeMake. Researchers believe that other solar system moons like Triton and Phoebe were formed in this region millions of years ago.
NASA astronomers took the help of HST’s Wide Field Camera 3 to discover the MK2 moon. Hubble’s camera can easily distinguish between faint and bright objects and scientists exploited this property of HST to identify the moon.
However, not much is known about the moon yet. As of now scientists know that the moon takes about 12 days to complete one orbit around MakeMake. It is still unclear whether its trajectory is elliptical or circular. Further observation is needed to confirm all the minutes details about the moon.
Moreover, Hubble Space telescope was launched in 1990 and since then it has helped astronomers in exploring the deepest corners of the universe. It is the largest telescope present in the sky as of now and it will be replaced by the James Webb Telescope which has nearly thrice larger lens than the iconic HST.