Provisional name
2003 EL61
Dwarf Planet
Discovery date
Discovered by
Mike Brown, Chad Trujillo, David Rabinowitz
Discovery position
12+ Libra
Time of announcement
29.07.2005 - 0:27 UT
Orbital period
284.7 years
  • crosses the orbit of Pluto
51.545 AU
34.727 AU
Semimajor axis
43.136 AU

2000 km
Photograph copyright © Susanna Kauppinen. All rights reserved.
Kuva: Copyright © Susanna Kauppinen.

Santa and Santa's Little Helper

There is ambiguity in who actually discovered 2003 EL61. On MPC's List of Transneptunian Objects the location of discovery is listed as Sierra Nevada (07.03.2003 - 00:40:40 UT - Sierra Nevada Observatory, Granada, Spain). The object was discovered by Mike Brown's team on 28.12.2004, and therefore the nickname "Santa". You can read more about the subject on Mike Brown's website.

Brown's team discovered on January 26, 2005, that 2003 EL61 has a little moon, "Rudolph". On November 07, 2005, they found another satellite. In September 2008 Haumea was given its name and the moons were named Hi'iaka and Namaka.

"Santa" and "Rudolph"
Image: Mike Brown/Caltech

The family of Haumea

In the very distant past another object slammed into Haumea at high speed, and this giant impact led to all of the odd properties of Haumea.

Haumea is the fastest rotating body of its size class in our solar system, and it is also the most bizarrely shaped body of this size. The rotation period is only 3,9 hours. The shape of Haumea is therefore stretched out resembling a cigar. The rotation time may be near the point where body of this size starts to break down.

Haumea is followed in its orbit around the Sun by a swarm of icy bodies that were originally ejected from the surface of Haumea during the giant impact. The family of Haumea currently includes these objects:

2003 SQ317
2005 CB79

Wikipedia, Haumea family

More about the family of Haumea on Mike Brown's website.

Haumea and the children
Image: Mike Brown/Caltech

Haumea is the goddess of childbirth and fertility in Hawaiian mythology. Her many children sprang from different parts of her body. She takes many different forms and has experienced many different rebirths. As the goddess of the earth, she represents the element of stone.

Hi'iaka and Namaka are two of Haumea's children.

Hi'iaka is the patron goddess of the big island of Hawaii. Hi'iaka was born from the mouth of Haumea and carried by her sister Pele in egg form from their distant home to Hawaii. She danced the first Hula on the shores of Puna and is the patron goddess of the island of Hawaii and of hula dancers.

Namaka is a water spirit, who was born from the body of Haumea. When Pele sends her burning lava into the sea, Namaka cools the lava to become new land.