This artist impression provided by the European Southern Observatory and the journal Nature, shows the surface of the distant dwarf planet Makemake. This dwarf planet is about two thirds of the size of Pluto, and travels around the Sun in a distant path that lies beyond that of Pluto, but closer to the Sun than Eris, the most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System. Astronomers say Pluto's icy more distant sister seems even more alien because they found it doesn't have an atmosphere. Scientists measuring the light signature from Makemake conclude that it doesn't have a global atmosphere. A study in Wednesday's journal Nature said it still may have pockets of atmosphere from methane ice turning into gas. Makemake is one of our solar system's distant dwarf planets beyond Neptune. (AP Photo/European Southern Observatory/Nature
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 (MAH'-kay MAH'-kay) 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 400 degrees below zero. Scientists compare it to getting warmth from a 100-watt light bulb 33 feet away. It was discovered in 2005.