Makemake is a likely dwarf planet and perhaps the second largest Kuiper belt object in the classical population. Its surface is covered with methane, ethane, and possibly nitrogen ices. It is the brightest trans-Neptunian object after Pluto. It was named after Makemake, the creator god of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island.
About Makemake in brief
Makemake is a likely dwarf planet and perhaps the second largest Kuiper belt object in the classical population. Its surface is covered with methane, ethane, and possibly nitrogen ices. It is the brightest trans-Neptunian object after Pluto. As of April 2019, Makemake is 52. 5 AU from the Sun, almost as far from the sun as it ever reaches on its orbit. Its orbital period is 306 years, more than Pluto’s 285 years and Haumea’s 248 years. It has one known satellite, Eris, which it may have used to send a signal to the Earth. It was named after Makemake, the creator god of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island, under the expectation by the International Astronomical Union that it would prove to be a dwarf planet. The earliest known precovery observations of Makemake have been found in photographic plates of the Palomar Observatory’s Digitized Sky Survey from January 29, 1955 to May 1, 1998. The provisional designation 2005 FY9 was given to Makemake when the discovery was made public. In July 2008, in accordance with IAU rules for classical KUIper belt objects, 2005 FY8 was given the name of a creator deity.
The name Makemake was chosen in part to preserve the object’s connection with Easter. The team had planned to delay announcing their discoveries of the bright objects Makemake and Eris until further observations and calculations were complete, but announced them both on July 29 when the Discovery of another large object they had been tracking was controversially announced on July 27 by a different team in Spain. Despite its relative brightness, Make make was not discovered until after many much fainter Kui per belt objects. It probably escaped detection during the earlier surveys due to its relatively high orbital inclination, and the fact that it was at its farthest distance from the ecliptic at the time of its discovery, in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices. Such objects have relatively low eccentricities and do not cross Neptune’s orbit much in the same way as the classical objects. Unlike plutinos, which can cross the Sun’s orbit due to their age of over the age of the Solar System, such objects do not do this. Makemake passed its aphelion in early 1992.