Last week The International Astronomical Union (IAU)
announced the official name of dwarf planet 2003 EL61 (136108). Henceforth it shall be known as Haumea. It was named for the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth and fertility. Its 2 moons are named after the 2 of the goddess' daughters, Hiʻiaka and Namaka. According to Hawaiian mythology the 2 daughters sprang from various parts of the goddess' body. The 2 moons are suspected to have been broken off from Haumea as a result of a collision.
Childbirth, fertility, children??? Like I said, does anyone get the irony of the choice of names within the "culture of death" that we live in?
Another reason for the name is that the goddess Haumea was also a personification of stone & unlike most Kuiper Belt object, the planet is suspected to be almost entirely rock. Another unique item is its shape. Instead of being round it has a rounded ellipsoidal shape. It is twice as long around the equator as it is around the poles. But, because it meets the hydrostatic equilibrium requirements, it is a planet.
Haumea has a 4 hour day. But it takes 285.4 years to orbit the sun. At the closet it is about 35 AU from the sun, at its furthest, 51.5 AU. It has a mass that is 28% of Pluto's. It has water (ice) on its surface.
There is a debate going on about which team actually was the 1st to find the planet, 1 was led by Jose-Luis Ortiz of the Sierra Nevada Observatory in Spain, the other was led by Mike Brown of Caltech. Going back over archived photos, the 1st known picture turns out to have been taken in 1955.