Distant dwarf planet may have no atmosphere
This artist impression provided by the European Southern Observatory and the journal Nature, shows the surface of the distant dwarf planet Makemake. (European Southern Observatory)
Published Thursday, November 22, 2012 9:24AM EST
WASHINGTON -- Astronomers say Pluto's icy more distant sister seems even more alien than thought because it doesn't have an atmosphere.
Scientists gained that bit of new knowledge about the dwarf planet Makemake by measuring light from data gathered by several large telescopes. Researchers report in the journal Nature that the small planet may simply have some pockets of atmosphere from methane ice turning into gas.
Makemake is one of four dwarf planets in our solar system beyond Neptune. It is so far from the sun its temperature is about -240 Celsius. Scientists compare it to getting warmth from a 100-watt light bulb 10 metres away. It was discovered in 2005.