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Introduction :

Haumea (minor-planet designation 136108 Haumea) is a dwarf planet located beyond Neptune's orbit. It was discovered in 2004 by a team headed by Mike Brown of Caltech at the Palomar Observatory in the United States and independently in 2005 by a team headed by José Luis Ortiz Moreno at the Sierra Nevada Observatory in Spain, though the latter claim has been contested. On September 17, 2008, it was named after Haumea, the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth, under the expectation by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) that it would prove to be a dwarf planet. Nominal estimates make it the third-largest known trans-Neptunian object, after Eris and Pluto, though the uncertainty in best-fit modeling slightly overlaps with the larger size estimates for Makemake.

Haumea's mass is about one-third that of Pluto, and 1/1400 that of Earth. Although its shape has not been directly observed, calculations from its light curve are consistent with it being a Jacobi ellipsoid (the shape it would be if it were a dwarf planet), with its major axis twice as long as its minor. In October 2017, astronomers announced the discovery of a ring system around Haumea, representing the first ring system discovered for a trans-Neptunian object. Haumea's gravity was until recently thought to be sufficient for it to have relaxed into hydrostatic equilibrium, though that is now unclear. Haumea's elongated shape together with its rapid rotation, rings, and high albedo (from a surface of crystalline water ice), are thought to be the consequences of a giant collision, which left Haumea the largest member of a collisional family that includes several large trans-Neptunian objects and Haumea's two known moons, Hiʻiaka and Namaka.


Size and Distance :

With a radius of about 385 miles (620 kilometers), Haumea is about 1/14 the radius of Earth. If Earth were the size of a nickel, Haumea would be about as big as a sesame seed.

From an average distance of 4,010,000,000 miles (6,452,000,000 kilometers), Haumea is 43 astronomical units away from the Sun. One astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU), is the distance from the Sun to Earth. From this distance, it takes sunlight 6 hours to travel from the Sun to Haumea.


Orbit and Rotation :

Haumea takes 285 Earth years to make one trip around the Sun. As Haumea orbits the Sun, it completes one rotation every 4 hours, making it one of the fastest rotating large objects in our solar system.

It is possible a massive impact billions of years ago set off Haumea's spin and created its moons.

Facts :

  • A day on Haumea lasts 3.9 hours.
    Haumea’s characteristic extreme elongation is probably caused by its rotation, which is so rapid it turned it into an ellipsoid. Its rotational speed as well as its collisional origin also make Haumea one of the densest dwarf planets discovered to date.

  • Haumea has a spot.
    In 2009 a dark red spot was discovered which stands out from surrounding crystalline ice. It’s thought this spot could be an area of the dwarf planet that is with a higher concentration of minerals and carbon rich compounds than the rest of the icy surface

3 D Model of Haumea

Source: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD)

Source Credits : NASA, Wikipedia and Space Facts.

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