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November 22 2012

Distant Dwarf Planet Secrets Revealed


Orbiting at the frozen edges of our solar system, the mysterious dwarf planet Makemake is finally coming out of the shadows as astronomers get their best view yet of Pluto's little sibling.

Discovered in 2005, Makemake—pronounced MAH-keh MAH-keh after a Polynesian creation god—is one of five Pluto-like objects that prompted a redefining of the term "planet" and the creation of a new group of dwarf planets in 2006.

Just like the slightly larger Pluto, this icy world circles our sun beyond Neptune. Researchers expected Makemake to also have a global atmosphere—but new evidence reveals that isn't the case.

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